APPI Paragliding course: Kiting

The rut was settling in.

Spikey wasn’t around.

It was kind of a slow day with the rigour of summers setting in, a boredom for a routine set up in which happens with any kind of routine set up.

The most boring routine but amazing result oriented routine I have ever tried and kept for myself has been of making my bed every day. More about it later.

With the heat going up, a quick nap and packing of gliders ensured we were on schedule to the Pawna ground for our Kiting session.

For the unaware junta, kiting is a “Know-your-glider” practice session where you feel the glider, it’s tension points, it’s limitations.

It’s recommended to do with your own glider but there are kiting gliders available for newbies to be introduced to the art of kiting.

These pictures and videos will be of help!

BGD glider, a real tester for novice para pilots for kiting. Sensitive AF.

Colourful skies!
F.O.C.U.S

 

 

Post the kiting, headed to the new take off area for a planned ridge soaring flight.

The wind was really strong and we decided to wait for a while before jumping off the hill.

Para-waiting shots!
Wait for your time.

Ending the post with a priceless capture!

Perfect shot!

APPI paragliding course: Study day

Experience is the best teacher, but let the other guy be the one who flies through the rotor.

The day started with a lot of reading and studying, ensuring I get the weather chapters right!

The weather is one of the most important aspects of flying, considering the possibility of launching-flying-landing is all dependent on the wind conditions, you better know your mark.

Geography.
Keep learning!

With the early lunch done and the Sun rising up hard and strong, we moved to the hill top.

 

 

Packing the tempo to the brim with flying and kiting glider.

While making a good 60 min drive to the flying site more fun, Tarim played some good Bollywood music.

https://youtu.be/kvsgJV1r0Kc

Reaching the spot, winds were a bit cross, so we waited for a bit and while we waited, dabbled in some good old kiting.

Colourful BGD glider.

With the wind placed right, we suited up for taking off from old launch area but even that wind turned out to be a bummer, we mushroomed and moved quickly to the new launch area and within minutes hit the skies with full vengeance.

A couple of hours of uneventful soaring is what I wanted and instead what I got was a lesson of a lifetime!

We were up in the air and considerable amount of traffic(gliders) was in sight, we were following the ridge rules (set of 4 rules to follow while flying off a cliff) suddenly on my right, I see Danvir sir moving in front of me waving a big HELLO, at that point it didn’t look much of a trouble, we got back to focussing on our respective flights and enjoying the view from the top.

After a good 45 min of flying, I approached for landing in regular figure of eights and landed close to the spot.

On landing, these two village lads joined in helping me pack the glider,

Kishan & Vinayak, eager to help and learn!

I packed and reached out to Danvir sir, we both knew the importance of that meaningful man to man conversation and exchange of fear we both had that moment.

It is always good fun to catch up on co-pilots on the ground but this interaction with Colonel Danvir Singh sir would be etched in both our minds for long.

Catching up on a breath.

 

Found my sweet spot on the ground with packed glider giving me back support and chai-poha for a company, it was bliss.

 

Final evening shot from the site.

Ohh wait, the final shot has to be of Tarim’s innovative way of relaxing while heading back to base, he lunged himself into the back of the truck and snuggled into the pack of gliders.

Tarim and his relaxation methods.

Over and out.

APPI paragliding course: Instructor life

The day started with everyone murmuring in unison, “It’s Ganpat sir’s birthday”!

Ganpat sir is one of the most assuring voice you will hear in the skies of Kamshet, a voice you would know has it in control, not only himself but you and your glider is also under his control such is his understanding of the sport. Highly regarded in the fraternity by old and new and it was his BIRTHDAY!

Birthday boy lost in the crowd of well-wishers!

Today’s de-brief was packed and was termed “Sunday houseful”

Packed energy!

I crashed into Akash sir’s class for P1, always fun to sit for a class you have already done because clearly you haven’t.

Akash sir with his Alps story. 🙂

Jeetu sir took our capsule 5 which included sessions and understanding on,

Jeetu sir explaining sun-thermals-clouds, cause SRK didn’t explain it enough. (Suraj hua madham)                                               
  1. Mechanics of flight
  2. Weather

The session was interrupted by Spikey crashing in with his wagging tail and absolute cuteness!

Spikey sir, teaching us how to be calm and composed. Always.    

Post the session a bit of chilling with the team and a heavy Sunday lunch we headed for a quick nap.

The brief was given and I was more than happy to know my ridge soaring schedule and tasks at hand.

Task:
1 360degree turns
2. Speed bar
3. Big Ears

On reaching the site, the wind conditions looked great albeit, with a hint of crosswind, we decided to wait for a while and then launch the experienced club pilots first as they would be our test dummies!

Once they were in the air and we had an idea of how things are going on, Instructors planned our launch and there I was, excited to soar in the skies next to majestic Fort Tungi and over the scenic Pawna lake.

Lines, glider, sun. Life.

I took off smoothly and was in air for a couple of seconds when I was radio to check a knot on the brake line, a risky proposition in this sport but the tangle was not much and I was able to handle it well, post which I started soaring in the figure of 8 following the ridge rules.

The view was usual magical, green grass blue skies, green swimming pool bottoms and a setting sun. Absolute stunner!

Setting sun.
In to the sun. Literally.

After a long flight of 50 min, I was asked to head into the wind as P1 pilots were taking off and they needed clearer traffic to handle their first flight ever!

I was being guided by the Avi sir, I was about to overshoot the landing spot, though I knew what was happening I didn’t take any action and was hovering and gliding past the spot, to which I was asked to take a swerve and go behind and create space for me to be able to land perfectly, eventually I did a perfect landing with some soundings from the chief. Phew!

Good flying mate.

At the landing area, all you will hear is excited voices and uncontained happiness.

Sat down with a cup of chai and Poha to end my evening with a smile.

Chai, poha, lake, sunset, fulfilling flying.

It’s fun to have so much fun. Amen.

Closing with this beautiful pic of Tungi fort.

A capture to finish all capture!

Parawaiting

Parawaiting: Waiting time before ideal conditions kick in and you soar.
What it actually means,
Wait for your time, wait for your turn, wait for your favourable conditions to soar. While you are waiting for use that time to prepare yourself for that amazing experience you are waiting for.
Check your harness, check safety belts, clear entangled lines, tiniest bit of distraction and comfort can take away your moment of glory.
I guess, waiting for the right wind conditions is the learning one needs to practise in real life too.

Also, that eagle in the tee is always watching our attempt at being a bird like. “You guys are funny”, he says!

Eagle in the tee.

APPI paragliding course: The fly dog & Ridge soaring

APPI course Day 2:

Early morning and Spikey says “hi” in his own cute little way or so I believe.

Spikey. Go away face.

Early morning de-brief by the ever smiling Sr. Instructor Ankush sir,

Sitting area curation level: Infinite, also find Ankush in white.

After the de-brief and simulation practice, we had a loud birthday celeberations and a quiet lunch.

Birthday celebrations in the house!

Today the day felt slow but we had no clue what was in store for us at the site.

After a power nap, we boarded the traveller and sumos with the gliders and marched towards few hours of happiness.

Once reaching the spot, we did a self-inspection and realised that long hours of parawaiting is in store for the pilots. A top-bottom approach is doable but we weren’t here for that!

Two reasons we were waiting for the conditions to get better,

  1. Slow wind of 9-10Kmph
  2. North-West Crosswind
  3. Ridge soaring greed.

We waited,

W.A.I.T

And some more

But after 4 hours of parawaiting, we finally flew.

After a good ridge soaring in turbulent conditions, I landed smoothly and ran for another top-bottom flight to catch the setting sun against the Tungi fort. Beautiful. Period.

After a long tiring day, head to base camp for a kickass chicken biryani. Hail Kaka this time.

 

Lesson: Parawaiting is a special skill set. read more about it here.

APPI paragliding course: The Beginning

I remember, the beautiful part about joining school after a long summer vacation is that nervousness of my friends not going to recognise me, will the peon uncle smile at me giving me an assurance of familiarity or NOT. This and other fear can make any young heart go dub-lub-dub, it is the same feeling I get when I go back to my paragliding alma mater at Temple-pilots, the place where I picked up this beautiful sport!

That fear couldn’t even last for 3 min as when I entered I met long lost people from novice piloting days and a friendly banter ensued followed by the friendliest of faces of the instructors here and the cutest SPIKEY or as Neenad (@mumbai__streetphotogrpaher)
calls, “SPIKEYAAAAA” to which there could be a flying sandal on the way by the ever caring Anita, co-owner or should I say Co-nurturer of this beautiful setup!


It would be unfair to the entire flying fraternity if I don’t mention the uber suave and someone who can rival Dhoni in the coolness quotient, presenting

*drum roll* Avi Malik *drum roll*

With the initial chitchat between the instructors and old story narration, we settle down with a cup of chai for the de-brief session headed by Sr Instructor and chief prankster Ankush, he takes on the session like a boss, rampages through earlier day’s mistake learnings as they like to call it here.He introduces me to the bunch of pilots who are going to be there with me for another 9 days of the course and these are actual pilots, they fly aircrafts and then I ask myself what are they doing here and then I chuckle at the thought of “what am I doing here?” we are seeking something “beyond the usual.”

Anyways, we hit the simulator practice and I ace it, I am killing it when instructor Vikas the shelar boy makes me feel like shite when he points out my straps are not plugged in, embarrassingly I fix it and he gives me the nicest smile of “it’s okay” if it exists. Ankush pulls a prank on P1 students with me in the play and it falls flat with the students(thank god for that)Post the simulator practice, I sat down for the most amazing “home cooked Indian food” I have had in a very long time, simple food with so much love does become delicious anyways that’s what my mom does when she cooks for us! 🙂 With a quick nap, we rush to pick up our glider bag ensuring I have my helmet in place, I double check and ask Akash(Instructor) to check for me again! 😀

We dump ourselves into this hot tin traveller, start moving to this lakeside spot for which I have been waiting for since I have seen pictures of it plastered all over the base.

After a quick stop at the very famous eatery with the paragliders of Kamshet, and a refreshing sugarcane juice we head to our site.

SITE: Words are not going to be enough to present the beauty
Showcasing Exhibits below :B
Exhibit1: Can you feel the wind? 

Do you see how much it gives.

After an hour taking in this beauty, we decided to get the ground handling activity going as I was coming back after 3 months of a gap, the most painful and rewarding aspect of paragliding is getting to know your glider a lot, Kiting and ground handling session gives you the opportunity to do the same. 

Ground handling heaven.

After a 90 min of gruelling ground handling session and looking at spikey taking a cool dip, Instructors decided I was good enough to do a top-bottom here at Pawna,

Reaching the top, the view was mesmerizing, a fairy tale set up. Absolute scenic or as the film buff in me pointed out, this could be a YashRaj movie location.

That jutting massiveness is Tungi fort.

The top to bottom was absolutely mesmerising, with green-blue-orange hue all over the place and AVI sir playing with my alertness throughout the flight over the radio.
 

Refreshed from the top-bottom flight. Your’s truly.

And before we realised, we were ready to pack up and head to the base. 

Just got down buddy! Enjoy the scene! 😀
Packed!
Spikey keeping a close watch.

Sunsets like these

Lights will guide you home. #cliche

This place is a beauty bomb, waiting to explode with its template, I just hope it never gets discovered more than it has already been!
The final meal of the day makes me smile, thank you chef Kaki at the base. 

Dinner!

That’s all folks. Lights out. 

APPI Paragliding Course: Prep day

Doing my APPI (Association of Paragliding Pilots and Instructors) license course with temple pilots in Kamshet is the culmination of what I picked up this season. Flying!

Camwati. adventurecamera+relfectors

 

Few things to get jet packed into my kit is|are,

  1. SUNSCREEN: Save your skin, Wolverine couldn’t. Mine is Nivea spf50, anything around 50 is safe for Indian conditions.
  2. Pick up your reflector shades and a cool scarf, I picked up mine from http://www.decathlon.in
  3. Pack your all kind of books, log books, temple guidebook aka manual, fiction/non-fiction(parawaiting is a curse you will love if you feel the need to slow down, trust me it’s a real thing)
  4. Trekking|Hiking shoes is a good addition to your kit, you can find some cool one at the local decathlon stores or on Flipkart.
  5. Check wind conditions to avoid surprises, I do this from the windfinder app.
  6. Pull on your go-pro and get ready to swing!

Hoping to do this at #Pavna lake 😀

Always choose The Finisher!

It is said that 99% of people participate in a marathon to finish. I believe it as I am part of that clan which does the same.

We are in it, to win finish it.

I read of this amazing rule of the US Navy SEALs,

The rule is that when you feel you are completely & totally & absolutely devastated and destroyed – the fact is that you are ONLY 40% done. There IS 60% left in you to continue & keep doing.

The author aligns this point to Marathons and explains that the reason that 99% of folks who start marathons complete them is because when they feel like giving up, they are 40% done & they fight their mind and body to keep going to succeed.

Interestingly, I’ve seen this in Startup founders and entrepreneurs. In all the Companies I’ve been associated with that have lasted 10+ years, the first 3-4 years were the toughest. The next 3-4 years were OkAY & the great stuff began happening after 7+ years.

I have heard the same thing from failed founders that they didn’t fail because the idea wasn’t great or execution lacked planning, but the real deal was “we didn’t persevere enough”

The greatest strength lies not in our physical ability but in our mental capability, we can move mountains but to do that we need to pick up that shovel and dig up the base one time and then repeat it until done!

I would rather choose a slow runner who wants to end the race more than that sprinter whose sine graph movement confuses the entire race plan and eventually bows out at the end when it really matters.

I would choose a finisher. Period. Any day.

Just keep doing until you die. And you won’t die.

Dive fun in Pondicherry

Travelling to Pondicherry, you need to go scuba with fun people of Temple adventures,
The coral reef is man made but the lionfish and cuttlefish you sight are absolutely natural.

2017: Year of hardwork & hardluck

Learning to fly!
Shore diving in the Tulamben!
Dip in the serene.

This year has been a year of

  1. Shifting Gears
  2. Losing hope
  3. Having hope
  4. Being hit hard
  5. Plummeted into the Connaught place inner circle pillars
  6. Waking up like that woman in those awesome coffee adverts.
  7. Face smashed like those waves at marine drive in July.
  8. Content like in those last shot of every sportswear commercials.
    Basically, balancing the entire awesomeness of hard work and appreciating the madness of hard luck.
    Magic is somewhere in between. Go find yours.

**************
On 1st Jan: Finished Advanced open water diving course with templeadventures.com in Pondicherry.
Was staying with Kipak stays which I found on Airbnb and was a beautiful place to crash.
It had 3 dogs, 2 hens, and a freewheeler jungle cat!
Unfortunately, that place does not exist anymore for homestays.
Feb 10th: Finished Goa Olympic triathlon in 04:20:23 hrs.
Feb 11th: Dived with Dive-Goa at three multiple locations. Details here.

Moved cities with couple of bags and lot of baggage!
Discovered the joy of wings and flying with templepilots.com
Earned my first taste of breeze at 500ft.
Earned my first real paragliding experience at 3000 ft from the tower hill.