Paragliding – the sport that gives you wings (quite literally!) has gained momentum over the past two decades. In the Indian subcontinent, we witness people from all over the world travel to the majestic Himalayas to glide through the air with nothing but a nylon canopy and wind beneath their wings. What started as a recreational activity, has further morphed into a competitive adventure sport today.
Paragliding is an adventure air sport where the rider sits in a harness that is attached to a canopy glider through suspension lines. It works on the aerodynamic forces of the air around you and the air pressure. Even though there is no engine, you can still fly in the air for hours at a time. With the right skills, you can learn to control your height and reach thousands of metres height while gliding through the air. Paragliding can be done solo if you have trained with a certified trainer and school ( information about certified schools is available on our website) or you can do tandem paragliding with a certified pilot controlling the glider.
India houses world-class levels of paragliding topography and with the availability of equipment; we are witnessing growing popularity in the competitive zone. Our geography is what makes this sport easy access for one and all. Be it snow-clad mountains or barren deserted terrains or mountains covered with forests, paragliding does show you the best of what our country possesses. A good mix of landscapes and slopes with the pilot’s degree of adventurousness or cautiousness gives this sport the true meaning of extreme beauty.
Hence, India is a great location for paragliding. Bir Billing in India is the top spot for paragliding throughout Asia. India’s mixed terrain of high mountains and deep valleys make it a perfect destination for paragliding.
“My first experience of paragliding was magical, the only problem is now that I felt what it’s like to be flying, and I know that it’s more wonderful than scary, I can’t wait to do it again!”- Anna Beth on paragliding in Bir Billing
Course & Experience
Know when the sky is fly
Paragliding is an air sport based on thermals and air currents. Clear skies are generally preferred by all, due to visibility, safe flights and to enjoy the general beauty of the surroundings. Also, When the weather conditions are desirable, a person can ride in the air for hours together.
So, Weather conditions play an important role in deciding your scale of enjoyment.
Paragliding lessons and activities are held all year round in destinations such as Solang and Dobhi near Manali, Kokrajhar in Bodoland and Bir Billing as the wind and the weather are ideal for paragliding throughout the year. While in places like Kamshet and Vagamon the best season for paragliding is from September to March. In the monsoon season, it is advisable to avoid paragliding for safety purposes due to low visibility conditions and strong inconsistent winds.
Following are the paragliding destinations in india which offer both solo and tandem paragliding
Altitude: 2600m above sea level
This relatively less known location is the top site in Asia for paragliding and the 2nd in the world. This place is called the best destination for paragliding in India.
Bir billing lies in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh and it easily accessible. It is a quaint town home to a Tibetian colony so you even experience a rich culture here.
Bir is the point for taking, Billing is a place for landing . These two spots have a distance of 14km. The reason behind its popularity is the suitable air currents, good cloud base and the best take off and landing site, which allows paragliding throughout the year.
Paragliding in Bir billing offers the best flying conditions!
Also, the view from the top has often been described as nothing less than magical.
Altitude: 1700 m to 1900 m above sea level
Solang valley, 11km away from Manali, is a sprawling valley surrounded by snow-covered peaks. It is one of the many wonderful destinations in India for paragliding. The lush green valley gives you many unforgetting sights and you get to experience the amazing view of white himalayan mountains .The best months for paragliding in Manali starts from May till the end of October.
Altitude: 1200 – 2200m above sea level
This beautiful hill station in the north-eastern state of Sikkim is a perfect place for adrenaline junkies who love nature.
It is unexplored so you can expect to find a serene environment with breathtaking mountains on all sides. Baliman Dara and Bulbuley Dara are the only two certified paragliding take-off locations in east Sikkim (both are near Gangtok).
Altitude: 700m above sea level
You no longer need to travel far north to experience the thrill, as paragliding is even possible in Kamshet. It is situated between Pune and Mumbai, making it a great location for enthusiasts from both the places and is decked with the beauty of the Sahyadri Ranges and valleys.
Paragliding here gives you captivating views of the Western Ghats, the Indrayani river and the majestic Pavana Lake.
One major benefit here is that you get to customize your route for paragliding within limited boundaries.
Sports & Events
Opinions differ on who the first person to ever paraglide was.
In 1952 Canadian Domina Jalbert patented a governable gliding parachute with multi-cells and controls for lateral glide.
In 1954, Walter Neumark predicted a time when a glider pilot would be “able to launch himself by running over the edge of a cliff or down a slope.
Domina Jalbert invented the Parafoil and at the same time David Barish was developing the “sail wing” (single-surface wing) for recovery of NASA space capsule.
These developments were combined in June 1978 by three friends, Jean-Claude Bétemps, André Bohn and Gérard Bosson, from Mieussy, Haute-Savoie, France. They calculated that on a suitable slope, a “square” ram-air parachute could be inflated by running down the slope; Bétemps launched from Pointe du Pertuiset, Mieussy, and flew 100 m. Bohn followed him and glided down to the football pitch in the valley 1000 metres below.
From the 1980s, equipment has continued to improve, and the number of paragliding pilots and established sites has continued to increase. The first (unofficial) Paragliding World Championship was held in Verbier, Switzerland, in 1987, though the first officially sanctioned FAI World Paragliding Championship was held in Kössen, Austria, in 1989. Thus, paragliding became a sport and did not stay limited to adventure activities.
One launching technique is called “torpedo” launch. It is the best method for launching and the least dangerous. In this you have to gradually lean forward to 45 degrees during the lift-off. In this position the loading on the wing remains constant, thereby making it easier to create airspeed and lift-off.
Gurpreet Singh Dhindsa, Vijay Soni and Ajay Sharma are three indian pilots who have been qualified for the FAI World Paragliding Championship in Krushevo, Macedonia.
Competitions and Festivals
There are 4 different types of paragliding competitions
- Cross country flying – it is a race on a predefined course
- Acrobatics – In this the riders are judges on their acrobatic manoeuvres and skills
- Walk and fly – in this the competitors take on a journey of several days with compulsory crossing points
- Accuracy – in this the competitions are judges on their ability to accurately land on a given point
World Paragliding Championships is the main competitive paragliding championship in the World, organized by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. Following the invitation from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Organising Committee to 35 International Federations, the FAI has selected Paragliding as a potential additional sport.
India hosted the paragliding world cup in 2015. The International & Himalayan National Paragliding competition and Indian Open are some of the national competitions organised in India.
There are also paragliding festivals happening all around the country to experience the thrill of flying. The Paragliding Festival is organized by the Gujarat tourism along with many other private organizations in between the months of December and January at the Saputara range. It is a 26-day long Paragliding festival with numerous other activities happening.
Also, the International Paragliding Festival 2018 was organised at Vagamon (Kerala), India for the second time. This Festival witnesses renowned para-gliders from all around the world. Apart from the Flying event, organizers committee also hosts some of the major cultural and thrilling activities including with an Adventure Arena, Workshops, aero sports activities and cultural events.
Here are some tips on how to glide safely while making the most of the experience.
Book a tandem flight
Book a tandem flight To know how paragliding is before you take up training to fly solo.
Don’t learn the wrong way
If you are flying solo then Make sure that you get proper training from a certified paragliding school or if you are flying tandem then fly with a certified school with properly trained pilots. Do not heists to enquire the paraglide school about its certifications.
Inspection of the equipment
Whether you do solo or tandem paragliding, inspecting the equipment to make sure there are no tears or broken lines is key to having a safe flight. If you are flying with a certified school then they would probably do the inspection before hand but it never hurts to be careful so do ask them about the inspection being done.
Research research research!
Do good research about the school you are flying with and the course you will fly. It will help you feel safe and enjoy the place. Also knowing the place you are flying will help you be prepared.
Do check the weather forecast before booking the dates as the climatic conditions play a major role in your enjoyment of the experience. Book a date for when the skies are clear and you can have the most fun!
DON’T OVERESTIMATE YOUR SKILLS
It’s easy to be overconfident or too scared to fly. You should know how much you have learnt and what are your skills.
Listen to the instructor
Please do listen to whatever your instructor/pilot says as it ensures your safety.
Wear Something Warm for Early Morning Flights
It can get really cold up there so remember to clad yourself In warm clothes.
Avoid Eating Something Heavy Before the Flight
If you suffer from vertigo or motion sickness then it is advisable to not eat anything before the flight. While the flying isn’t scary, your nerves could end up making you barf if you had a heavy breakfast just 30 – 45 minutes before the flight.
Don’t Panic When You are Paragliding
The most important thing to remember is to not panic if you feel turbulence while flying. You are flying with a highly trained pilot so let them do their job.
Paragliding equipment can be very expensive so make sure you are committed to the sport before investing. All paragliding schools provide the equipment if you book a flight with them.
is also known as ram air airfoil in aeronautical engineering. The pilot is supported by the wing which is suspended by line on the harness. It keeps the paraglider in the air and it can be controlled to increase or decrease speed.
the basic feature of the helmet is to protect the head from injury.
it is the security glider which is carried by the glider in case of any tear to the original one.
it is a device that helps a pilot find and stay in the “core” of a thermal to maximise height gain and, conversely, to indicate when a pilot is in sinking air and needs to find rising air.
The radio is far more than a convenience when flying. It is your connection with other pilots and the ground for weather information, pilots in distress, and other emergencies.
It is used to communicate with other pilots and indicate when someone is landing.
It is used to determine drift due to the prevailing wind when flying at altitude, providing position information to allow restricted airspace to be avoided and identifying one’s location for retrieval teams after landing out in unfamiliar territory. The recorded GPS track of a flight can also be used to analyze flying technique or can be shared with other pilots.