Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ground handing on the beach

Yesterday was bright and sunny. I took my paraglider and went to the beach. Had a great ground handling session.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Paragliding Clubs in India

There are quite a few paragliding clubs in India. A simple search will lead you to their websites.

Space Apple is one such club close to Mumbai.

Virar is the closest and the best place near Mumbai for paragliding training. Being a coastal area the winds are laminar, predictable and ideal for training in the evenings and ridge soaring and thermalling in mid afternoon. Sydney hill, Black beauty hill, Twin rock hill, Jivdani hill, Kaner hills and few other small slopes are used for training. Virar is the only place near Mumbai with so many choices all in a radius of about 6 kms from Virar station. You do not spend much time in traveling. Winching is another method used for training. Virar has hundreds of acres of open land where winch based training is conducted. The huge coast of over 20 kms is ideal for paramotoring training, power kiting and parasailing.

Space Apple is a club dedicated to teaching paragliding, paramotoring and power kiting. The chief Instructor enjoys teaching and has been training since 1998. Students are trained by chief instructor on a one to one basis and not by assistants. Theory and video session help in getting the fundamentals right. Maximum number of students in a batch is three. The training team consists of two Chief instructors and two assistants.


There are three courses to complete your training till intermediate level after which you are totally independent. The basic course, also know as EP (Elementary Pilot) course is for about 3 to 4 days. CP (Club Pilot) Course or Advance ground handling course is for about 4 to 5 days. Advance flying techniques – this training is weather dependent and can be completed in about 15 to 20 flights. After this you are independent of instructor and ready to purchase your own equipment.


To begin with you can start with a basic or EP training.

The Basic course is the first step towards making your dream of flying come true. It is a great feeling to be up in the air, enjoy the freedom experienced by the birds and get a sense of achievement. Here's how the course works:

Ground School
You'll start with the ground school. There will be briefing on the theory of flying. We will explain why things fly and how the glider is designed. This way you will know not only what to do but how it works. You'll get a set of notes specifically written for this course that will help you review. Next, you'll get into the equipment and start ground handling.

Ground Handling
Ground handling is where you run with the glider on flat ground. You do this so that you can practice: inflating the glider, running with it, staying centered, making turns and slowing down. In short, practicing, all the basic elements of a flight before you even leave the ground. Becoming proficient in these fundamentals is the most important part of this course. When you find that you can consistently inflate the glider, run with it, steer smoothly and slow the glider down, you'll be ready for your next level of getting lifted off your feet.


Confident is how you want to feel while leaving the ground and that’s where the instructor plays an important role. You'll be glad that you came to Space Apple for training as we do not train big groups but give individual training. You are trained to takeoff independently without assistance. You'll have flight plan for each flight so you'll know what to do and your instructor will guide you on the radio as you fly. Depending on the weather conditions and the hill we use, your initial flights will be of two to five minutes duration. You'll get a number of flights to practice launching, steering, landing and just enjoying the sheer pleasure of being airborne!

Cost: Rs. 9500/- Non residential. Residential course all inclusive Rs.11,000/- .


How Long?
This course is usually completed in three days. Weather may extend the course to a fourth day. Training schedule is 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the evening on the field. Afternoons are spent watching training videos and completing basic theory lessons.

What to wear?
Ankle support shoes are a good investment if you love outdoors adventure sports. An alternative would be your best pair of shoes for outdoor activity. Full sleeves T-shirt is a must along with denim trousers. Plenty of water and high energy fruits or chocolates will be useful. Get your camera along.

Where do we fly?
There are a number of hills we might use depending on the wind conditions. Most of these are around Virar. Ground training field is about 1 km from the club house. We also have the option of winching or towing out on the plains or seashore.

What are other costs?

Generally people from Mumbai return back home in the evening and come back the next morning. So your traveling cost to Virar is the only other expense. But for those who wish to stay back we do provide accommodation @ Rs.250 per head. Meals work at about Rs.50 to Rs.70 per head per meal.

What about safety and risks?

Paragliding is an adventure sport and like any other adventure sport has inherent risk associated with it. We have years of experience in training which helps us eliminate and reduce the risk. Our group size is small and the site is not congested with pilots. Being a coastal area winds too are more predictable. All these factors help us maintain a good safety record. We are equipped with first aid facilities and a stretcher. In any unfortunate incident good hospitals are within two kilometers from the site.

For more information visit

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Parasailing in Mumbai


A parasail is a parachute that goes up! It is designed to be towed behind a boat or 4-wheel drive vehicle. The passenger is strapped into the parasail's comfortable harness which is then connected to the canopy, signal is given to the driver of the tow vehicle, a few forwards steps under the canopy and you are in the air! Depending on the length of the tow rope, your parasail can carry you hundreds of feet into the sky.

If you've been to a beach resort destinations abroad or in Goa, you've probably seen parasails lifting riders skyward. PARASAILING is one of the fastest growing sports in the nation, and any one can join in the fun. Although recreational para-sails have been around for more than 30 years, more efficient modern designs has made it simpler than taking a joyride in a roller coaster. If you have never flown, the freedom of flight awaits you.

The ride is breathtaking and thoroughly enjoyable. The parasail is stable so the passenger enjoys the ride without having to steer. The landings are easy, the tow vehicle slows down and the rider is gently lowered to earth. Responsibility for the safety of the sportsman depends to a large extent on the team helping out in this sport.

What setup is used for parasailing?
Either a stationery winch or an SUV is used for towing up the parasail. The take-off and flight areas are clear of obstructions, trees and rocks. Skilled winch or tow operator and a four man ground crew, favorable winds, and you're ready.

What Preflight checks are done?
A preflight inspection of all the gear is mandatory. All take-offs must be into the wind, which should never exceed 15 to 20 mph. If need be test flight is done by team member and then it's time to start having real fun. The flyer should wear a helmet, approved life vest, and foot protection. After stepping into the harness and hooking onto the Para-Sail the flyer is ready. With the help of the launch crew the winch operator starts the vehicle and pulls the rope until the tow line is taut and completely extended. The sail is spread and held up on two sides by the flight crew. When everything is ready, signal is given to power up. The flyer initially resists the pull tp remove the slack in the lines and then steps forwards for takeoff. It normally takes three to five steps before the lift-off.

Once aloft, flyer gets comfortable in the harness by sitting in it rather than hanging from it. Steering right or left is achieved by pulling on the right or left rear risers, located within easy reach. Altitude is controlled by winch operator. Expect a maximum altitude of 300 feet.

How does one land

The tow or winch operator reduces the power gradually to reduce the height. The forward speed too gets reduced. A perfectly executed landing speed and direction will bring the flyer down to the earth with soft touch down just like a bird. The landing crew takes the control of the canopy.

Flying the para-sail is an aerial adventure that the whole family can enjoy.

If you want to enjoy this sport in Mumbai contact: Space Apple based at Virar. Website:, Landline: 0250-2586764, 9822499281. Email:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Welcome to world of paragliding

Samson D’Silva is a trained paragliding instructor, actively promoting the sport in western Maharashtra. Tel: 95250-2586764. Mobile: 098224 99281. E-mail:

Paragliding has arrived in India and it is here to stay. This is the youngest, and comparatively, the cheapest form of air sports and is relatively new in India. There are many sites in the country where pilots of various skill levels can explore the fascinating world of paragliding.
Though one needs to fly for years to gain experience and do professional flying, the basics of paragliding could be picked up in a few hours. This is the only form of aviation activity where the pilot can actually take his first solo flight on day one!
There are two methods of learning paragliding – winch based and hill flying.

In hill flying one has to depend on the locations provided by nature with its limitations and obstructions like trees and rocks. Learning to fly by a winch is safer and easier than hill flying as one can take-off and land in open fields. The height can also be controlled because depending on the response of the student pilot, the winch operator can actually control the altitude between 200 to 600 feet above the ground, and the pilot then releases the tow rope and has a free flight downwards to the landing zone. This gives the beginner pilot lot of practice at take-off and landing without having to climb the hills, an exhausting activity by itself.

One eventually ends up flying from hills and mountains to be more independent, but by gaining experience on a winch, is better prepared to avoid the rocks, shrubs and trees. Also through winch flying it is easier to complete a basic course and be prepared to face adventures of hill flying. The first few flights are generally of a minute or two from the initial small training hill, and then between 20 and 30 minutes when the student pilot gains experience and understands the sport. These flights are extremely enjoyable, and although short, satisfy that dream of flying like a bird that many of us share. Even if this is all that paragliding had to offer, the sport would still be well worth it. However, paragliding offers much more: as the pilots gain more experience they enjoy the beauty, excitement and challenge of finding rising air to prolong their flights.
Paragliding pilots commonly use two forms of rising air. The basic form of rising air one encounters on hills, called ridge lift, is caused by a wind blowing over a ridge or hill. By flying within this rising air back and forth along the hill or ridge, the paraglider pilot can remain aloft for lengthy periods of time.
The second is thermals, which are large "bubbles" or "packets" of air that have been warmed on a sunny day, and that rise up thousands of feet into the air. By catching a thermal and circling within it, the paraglider pilot can actually gain height, and remain aloft for many hours.

One of the great challenges of paragliding is developing the skill and "feel for the air" to find and stay in such rising air. This challenge is one reason why pilots remain in paragliding for year after year. The next step for a paraglider pilot is cross-country flying, where the pilot keeps on moving from one rising packet of air to another and covering long distances. Cross-country flights are possible on a winching as one gets launched straight in to a thermal. But that is something that requires more than beginners skills!