How about a flying visit in the sky,
like a bird with your wings opened up and floating with
the force of the air? Come to the ultimate adventure,
the adventure of flying free, without any hindrance,
the excitement of freedom, the freedom to fly. Come
and glide, you little boy!
Para-gliding is the latest aero sport to take the world
by storm. The origin of the sport dates back to 1940s
when an aviation pioneer, Dr. Francis Rogalo constructed
his flexible Delta Kite and filed a patent for it. But
it was not until the early 1980s that parachutes were
foot launched regularly from hills. Since then, this sport
has been rapidly expanding. Thousands of people all over
the world have found this sport convenient, sheer fun
and a safe medium of soaring in the air. A para-glider
is different from a hang-glider or a parachute in the
sense that it is much lighter than a hang-glider, much
easier to open up, takes little time, and the additional
advantage that you do not need to jump from a helicopter
or airplane to enjoy the glide in the sky. What you need
is some basic training and the will to achieve success.
A hang-glider is quite heavy (almost
55 kg in weight), bulky, and much complicated object.
It takes around 2 hours to open the glider and almost
the same time to pack it. The technicalities are more
complex than, say, a para-glider and the risks more.
But, then, what is in adventure if some element of risk
is not involved? This is the only reason that this game
is still quite popular despite so many new versions
coming out. The joy of flying in the sky just like a
bird is unparalleled and enormous.
A parasail is a parachute attached
to some moving transportation medium like a four-wheel
drive or a motorboat. The parachute goes up in the air
when the transport medium gets moving and the person
attached with it takes three or four quick steps and
then in the air. The sheer joy of soaring in the sky
hundreds of feet above and not much need of training
has made this game immensely popular. It has been a
family joyride for a long time
Para-gliding, parasailing, and hang-gliding
are different types of aero sports.
Physical fitness is of utmost importance
to participate in this game though importance of mental
fitness cannot be denied. People who have high/low blood
pressure and are overweight are advised not to participate
in high-altitude games and sports
A para-glider is a simple aircraft,
but like all other aircraft, it is the result of complex
and painstaking design. It is a specially designed square
parachute with a harness attached by lines and is made
of ripstop nylon, which is specially coated with polyurethane
to ensure zero porosity. The canopy is constructed of
a top and bottom surface joined by a number of vertical
segments-the resulting chambers being called the cells.
The opening at the front is called the leading edge.
When the canopy is fully inflated, the cells take up
an aerofoil shape with a fattish lower surface and a
curved top surface. The rear of the wing is usually
called the trailing edge.
The other important section of a para-gliderís
canopy is its lines. These are made of a very strong
material called Kevlar and are usually encased in an
outer sheath of nylon or similar material. These risers
connect the canopy lines to the harness. The riser connecting
the trailing edge is called the control line and is
the most important segment of a para-glider. The control
lines allow the pilot maneuver the movement.
A para-gliding canopy is a square inflatable wing made
of non-porous material (like ripstop nylon or polyester),
which prevents air from passing through it.
Major equipments that you require for hang-gliding are
a good hang-glider, a safety helmet, harness, and life
jacket. Quality hang-gliding equipment with inbuilt safety
features of international standards is available in India
To enjoy parasailing, you need to have
a parasail, a parachute-like object. There will be a
harness inside the sail to make your flight comfortable,
a rope tow (almost 300 feet long), and a transport medium
(like a motor boat with 100 HP or any four-wheel drive).
For safety majors, you need a helmet and a life jacket
The slopes of the Solang valley near
Manali offer some of the most popular sites for para-gliding.
Other areas coming up for this sport are the Nilgiri
hills in the south, the Eastern Himalayas in the Darjeeling/Gangtok
area, Auli in Uttar Pradesh, and Sansar in Jammu & Kashmir
Billing (8,500 feet) in Kangra valley
in Himachal Pradesh has been the venue for hang-gliding
rallies offering opportunities for excellent flying.
Billing offers 100 km of up and down, and cross-country
Dharamkot (11,800 feet), situated near Dharamshala (Himachal
Pradesh), is another good place for hang-gliding in
Himachal Pradesh. It requires a 2-km trek from the nearest
road head to reach this place.
Kallahatti near Ooty offers 25 km of up and down, cross-country
route in the Nilgiris that passes over dense forested
areas. The gliders are offered glimpses of wild animals
in the sanctuary below. The Bombay Hang-Glidersí Club
organizes rallies at Talegaon in the Western Ghats on
the Bombay-Pune highway.
Parasailing has been a regular sport
at Billing in the Kangra valley. The game is also pursued
in Goa, Trivandrum, Orissa, hills of Uttar Pradesh,
the Northeastern states, especially Manipur, and many
other places in India.
India is a vast country with different
geographical zones. These zones also have different
climatic conditions that allow a variance in the climate
of the country. This variance gives the aero-sports
enthusiast ample opportunities to participate in their
favorite sports all through the year
Para-gliding is a happy mix of skydiving
a hang-gliding. It minimizes the cumbersome pre-flight
procedures of a hang-glider and offers you the fun of
flying in a parachute without actually jumping off an
aircraft. The para-glider is a portable aircraft, is
easy to learn and is safer to fly as compared to a hang-glider.
Para-gliding, in other words, is a free flight without
a parachute or a cumbersome hang-glider. What you need
is just a glider that is quite easy to fold or unfold,
a slope, a harness, and a strong thermal.
To start gliding, first you will need to have some training
that will include theory lessons in safety rules and
precautions, lessons in aerodynamics with special emphasis
on theory of flight, air safety, maintenance of the
para-gliding canopy and meteorology. Exhaustive ground
training is the most important part of any course.
To be a good para-glider, you should know the technicalities
like how to layout the para-glider, putting on the harness,
checking of the three sets of lines attached to the
canopy and harness, the pre-flight checks, the steps
to be taken to inflate the canopy and to bring it overhead,
and so on. Before you begin gliding, you also need to
observe the wind condition and location study. If you
are attending a program, it will include dry runs, that
is, launching practice on gentle slopes. Longer dry
runs are practiced over the next two days, and then
it is on to small hops-low flights with ground clearance
of only a few feet. Longer and higher flights are then
A good para-glider will always look forward to a thermal
around which he will be encircling and gaining height
to the cloud base. The flight time can be anything from
5-10 minutes to 2-3 hours.
You should also be familiarized with some of the technical
words attached with para-gliding like risers, leading
edge, trailing edge, cells, cross pores, thermals, etc.
These words may look quite alien in the beginning, but
later on you will understand their meanings.
Hang-gliding is much like the flight of a bird. You are attached
to a kite-like object (though much bigger and heavier
in size and weight), negotiate the height, wind, and
weather, and fly down the slope. The most important
parts in this process are the taking off and landing.
The process involves gradual gain or loss of altitude
after the pilot takes off with his wings from a hilltop
or any other place with a good altitude. The pilot can
extend his flight by ridge soaring, thermal soaring
or sea frontals. With the coming of new techniques like
aero-towing and flatland landing, gliding from the places
with low altitudes are also possible.
What do you require to be a hang-glider? Not much if you have love for your life and the determination to save yourself. To be a perfect glider, you need to have a learned skill of gliding, i.e., how to launch yourself, how to move yourself with the glider in the air, a good condition that can make your flight successful (the ability to recognize one will come with time and experience), and the art of landing safely.
In parasailing, you are attached to an instrument called parasail, which in turn would be attached to a jeep or motorboat. Your glide begins when the transport medium with which you are attached starts moving and your glide ends when the transport medium stops. Parasailing in a way is a joyride and not a sport as not much training is required for this.
Before you start sailing, the first step that you will take is to inspect all the gears that are required and ensure that they are ready to flight. In the beginning, take the practice flights with dummy weights; completing which you can start your real fun.
Remember that your entire take-offs is into the wind, speed of which must not exceed 15 mph. After several successful practice flights with a dummy weight, itís time to start having real fun. Wear all your safety gears like the helmet, life vest, and foot protection. Now, you are ready for the flight. Step into the harness and hook on the parasail. The boat will idle out into the wind with the help of the launch crew until the towline is taut and extended completely. The sail will be spread up and held by the flight crew from the both side and the signal will be given to power up. Now it is your responsibility that you are not running towards the motorboat but resist the pull, keep the line tight and maintain the balance. The sail is spread and held up on both sides by the flight crew. When all is ready, the signal is given to power up. After four or five steps, you can see yourself flying up in the sky and the joyride will began.
Do not hang from the harness but sit comfortably inside it when flying. You can expect to gain a height of around 200 feet with a 300-feet rope. Steering left or right can be achieved by pulling on the left or right rear risers, located within easy reach. Speed maintenance is the responsibility of the motorboat pilot. Initially, the boat travels into the wind; the boat speed must be adjusted to maintain the desired height. When turning to cross wind or down wind, speed is increased to maintain the relative air speed and desired flying height. The average boat speed will range from 15-30 mph (more during turns).
The flight landing is done with the driver reducing the throttle and the flyer gently drifting downward. The boat must stop before the flyer gets down to avoid dragging him. Hook off the sail when you have landed and wait to be picked up if you are in the water
Billing in Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh is the most favorite place to organize any hang-gliding event in India. The place also has the distinction of organizing first every paragliding competition according to the rules of Federation Aeronautique International, which makes this venue eligible for future world paragliding championships.
As paragliding is a relatively new sport, not many certified institutes are available in India. Many of the private companies provide a four-day course for the beginners, but they are in most cases not enough to make a good para-glider. Himachal Tourism organizes regular training programs in this field and they have an adventure sports hostel at Dharamshala and an Aero Sports Club at Bir. Contact the Himachal Tourism offices for more information. The Western Paragliding Association also organizes regular courses in paragliding at different places in Maharashtra.
Some of the reputed training institutes for para-gliding in India are
The Western Paragliding Association,
14 Percy, I.C. Colony,
Mumbai 400 103, India
Phone: 00 91 22 8934803, 8936184
Himalayan Institute of Adventure Sports
Manali, Himachal Pradesh
Indian Institute of Skiing & Mountaineering,
Department of Tourism, C-1 Hutments, Dalhousie Road, New Delhi,
Conducts para-gliding courses in Auli and Patnitop
The Aeronautical Society of India conducts parasailing training for the students during the school holidays in Bangalore.
Aeronautical Society of India (Bangalore Branch)
Phone: 00 91 80 5286721
Fax: 00 91 80 5297159
Bangalore Aero Sports Pvt. Ltd.
22/2, Alfred Street
Bangalore 560 025
Phone: 00 91 80 2290790, 2294917
Karnataka Mountaineering Association,
No. 307, 3rd Cross, 5th Main,
Bangalore 560 009
Phone: 00 91 80 6652991
Fax: 00 91 80 3339286
The National Institute of Water Sports, Goa also provides a five-day basic course in boat hangling for parasailing.