Friday, May 6, 2016

Glide like a bird

As the temperature rises in Mumbai the urge to escape to cooler climes rises proportionally.
As I scan the sky trying to plan out something different I see birds soaring and gliding around and it kindles the desire in me to do something similar !  
Google to the rescue and am talking to a very friendly person from ‘Temple Pilots’ regarding para gliding that can be done just a hundred kilometres from Mumbai!
The booking is made for a joy ride which is a tandem flight with a licenced instructor and all that I have to do is sit in the harness and enjoy the flight while the Flight Instructor takes care of the rest.
The meeting point is in Kamshet which is about ten kilometres from Karla so we decide to stay 

overnight in MTDC Karla, as our flight, subject to weather conditions, is fixed for the evening, as the mornings have not been very conducive for para gliding.
So we meet up with our contact from the Para gliding outfit at 1500hrs and then move on to the take off point which is another ten kilometres away on a scenic narrow road uphill. Having parked in the allotted space we then walk for about five minutes to where the action is. The excitement builds up 

as we see people arranging the gliders, checking the wind and generally preparing for the evening action. We are about ten of us who have signed up for joy rides and are asked to gather for a short briefing about what to expect. We are told that the flight would last for approximately ten minutes

and the payment would be post flight. The order of who would fly when, depending on various factors like wind, weight of person etc., would be decided by the person in charge of the operations. Being on the heavier side I get the opportunity to watch others take off before I was called for my turn. Here is a short video of a take-off though due to poor wind conditions they had to land below

the hill while all of us landed on the spot from where we took off.
Before I knew it I was harnessed and 1,2,3… take off! It was exhilarating. I had a GoPro camera strapped on to shoot what I saw and here is an edited version.

Now I know what is meant by ‘free as a bird’! The beauty of latching on to air currents and fly to soar and glide is meditative when all you hear is the wind and are at peace with the world. This is what differentiates it from flying in a microlight or any other aircraft where there is the hum of the engine. Paragliding is like riding a bike instead of driving a car but with the added advantage of merging in the sounds of nature.
The landing too was perfect! The experience ethereal!
There are many paragliding outfits in Maharashtra and all of them charge the same. After a bit of research I zeroed in on ‘Temple Pilots’.
This is not a sponsored post. I have paid for the activity and I think it is worth every Rupee!
The charges for a joy ride are Rs3000/- per flight on weekends and Rs.2500/- on weekdays. Please confirm these rates with the operators.