Adventure sports in Mumbai have not yet come of age. Youngsters
are curious and want a taste of the risk and thrill that it affords.
The clientele for these sports is split equally between men and
women. Although the best age limit would be between 15 to 50 years,
there are 65-year olds who make a go at paragliding armed with medical
certificates! That’s the spirit of Mumbai!
Adventure sports defined.
A nose-dive from sky to earth – with your nose barely touching
the ground! A headlong jump into space with your feet secured by
an elastic rope.
A commercial version of what birds have been doing all these years.
It’s a simple form of flying using a non-powered foot launch cloth
aircraft weighing about 15 kgs.
Never look down, you might forget the way up. It’s an old sport
of climbing rocky stretches, using ropes and harness belts. It costs
approximately Rs 250-350/- a day.
Just imagine you are Tarzan and Jane is waiting for you at the
bottom. Rappelling involves descending from a rock cliff using a
rope. It costs the same as rock climbing.
You are not happy swimming and want to know what’s crawling beneath,
go scuba diving. It entails taking trips deep down under water (it
could start at 12 m. and go on to beyond 50 m.), fitted with diving
gear and oxygen masks. The waters off the coasts of Lakshadweep
islands are ideal. A week of scuba diving (going down with a certified
diver) would cost around Rs 20,000.
many of us, especially in Mumbai, have stood on crowded platforms
waiting for the local train, and hoping we could just flap wings
and fly home in a jiffy. That is not practically possible, but at
least on a weekend you could don wings, run a few steps, take off
into the skies and feel the freedom. Once in the air, you can maintain
and even gain altitude using lifting air currents and thermals.
That’s the thrill of paragliding, the latest, finest and most exhilarating
form of aviation sports.
Running off moderate slopes usually launches you with the glider
inflated, until it lifts you off your feet. You do not have to be
an athlete for this. Once airborne, the physical effort is minimal.
But, being overweight or out of shape can put you to a disadvantage
when hiking or executing a hard landing. This sport has no age limits.
Wear your wings and get a bird’s eye view of the quaint stations
of Panchgani and Matheran or fly with the sea gulls over sea forts
and experience the fury of the sea.
Know Your Wings
Paragliders are lightweight aircrafts, which fly on the same aerodynamic
principles as Boeings. Howeverparagliders are delightfully slow,
with a very small speed range. It requires the same effort, as you
need to learn diving or cycling. The entire paragliding set-up weighs
less than 20 pounds and easily fits into a backpack.
Is It Scary?
If it were scary, birds would not be flying. It is a gentle adventure,
once airborne the experience can be serene, quiet and peaceful.
There is that element of risk even while walking on the roads, swimming
or climbing. In this sport, personal judgement and attitude is of
fundamental importance. Gain pilot attitude, obey instructions and
use safe equipment and paragliding can prove to be a safe and exhilarating
way to experience ‘flying.’ During training, you will start by skimming
the ground. As you progress you become more skilled and confident
and will probably feel the urge to go higher. Paragliders have reached
over 18000’ above sea level.
Take a tandem flight
You can paraglide with a friend. Tandem flights use wings large
enough to hold two people, the pilot and a passenger in front.
What To Wear?
- Sturdy footwear
- Sturdy pants like jeans
- Long sleeved shirt
The Western Paragliding Association
The Western Paragliding Association as an orientation
programme would like interested persons to spend a day with them.
The course starts at Mumbai. Students are free to come and go as
they wish, as training is personalised rather than batch oriented.
Day one is usually on a weekday, after which you can participate
according to your convenience.
There are no limits set for the course. The association has students
who have been with them since they started the school, and still
continue to fly with them. They work all weekends, and most weekdays,
except when they get tired and require a day-off. One can join the
course anytime, except between June and September, when it closes
Equipment: It is expensive and after about 20 flights on
‘their wings’ the association expects you to either buy new equipment,
or join an equipment pool and take the strain off their limited
Address: Laksh Aviation Pvt. Ltd, 14 Percy, IC Colony,
Borivali, Mumbai, Phone: 893 4803/ 893 6184.
Details: Courses take place in Virar, about 60 km north of
the city centre of Mumbai at the end of the Western Railway suburban
route. They last for 4 to 10 days, involve 15 to 30 flights and
cost around Rs 7500/-.
Nirvana Adventures offers introductory, beginners, novice
and intermediate residential courses in paragliding. The emphasis
is on getting people to enjoy the sport and fly safely. Classes
are limited to five people, so quality training is guaranteed.
Since 1996 this adventure club is based in the
lake district of Kamshet, 3 hours from Mumbai. They have also discovered
a variety of sites in a 30-kilometre radius from the base suited
for training both hobby pilots and the more serious ones. The sites
are operable from October to June.
The activities of the club include paragliding training courses,
site explorations, introductory tandem flights, paragliding holidays
and multi-activity adventure holidays. The 5-day beginner course
costs Rs 14,500, inclusive of food, stay and travel.
Contact: Sanjay Rao, Address: 2-A,
Takshashila Apartments, Tagore Road, Santacruz West, Mumbai – 400
054, Phone: 649 3110/ 605 3724, Fax:
649 3110, e-mail: email@example.com.
Om’ Air Paragliding
Om’ Air has set high standards of safety and professionalism
in this sport. The Club follows the syllabus laid down by the French
Federation of Paragliding (FFP) and has successfully trained over
100 students in the last four years at basic, intermediate and pilot
A student on the course is provided with a radio,
helmet, cross bracing harness with back protection and a glider
with air worthy certification, log book and a certificate on completion
of the course. This club is successfully creating awareness among
the youth and enthusiasts and exposing them to the wonderful world
of paragliding. Once the student gets the license to fly, the sky
is the limit.
1, Shankar Niwas, Pai Nagar, Borivali West,
Mumbai – 400 092,
Contact: Nandish Shah,
Phone: 891 8184,
Fax: 891 8183,
Author : Wasim Siddiqui