Paragliding has now become a very popular adventure sport in Maharashtra, thanks to the proximity of hill stations to cities like Pune and Mumbai.
For the uninitiated, paragliding is essentially the use of a wide canopy resembling a parachute that is attached to a person’s body by a harness. The paraglider then proceeds to jump off an elevated platform or hill top and glides through the air, solo or tandem,
While this may seem simple and error free, it can be extremely perilous. In a recent incident, A 45-year-old tourist from South Korea was killed in an accident while he was paragliding in Panchgani. His paraglider broke and he crashed into a hilly patch near Wai at Abhepuri village in Satara district.
Sang-teak Oh had come to India to participate in a paragliding event at Panchgani from February 17 to 19. Sang-teak Oh along with five other paraglider pilots were practising in the area when he was tragically killed.
These sports are exceedingly popular and offered in Lonavala and Panchgani in Maharashtra. However, there have been many instances where people have lost lives and injured themselves while paragliding.
Experts speaking to Pune365, Dhananjay Ghokale, Certified Paragliding Pilot and Expert, emphasised on the critical need to have more stringent safety norms, certified pilots and advanced equipment in place to prevent accidents of any kind.
Paragliding is considered has one of the most exciting adventures sports in India. While this outdoor activity is full of adventure and excitement, it comes with a lot of risk.
Paragliding should not be done when the weather forecasts thunderstorms and rain as things can turn nasty during the ride. Perfect weather like a bright sunny day is suggested for paragliding
The paraglider should ensure that all the necessary safety gear and protection is provided by the club and the pilot. The protective gear is also provided to the rider to take care of himself in a worst case scenario.
Paragliding is not easy as it sounds and the pilot and rider need to be mentally well prepared.
Commenting on the need to ensure that people only use authorised paragliding clubs, Gokhale adds, that no one should compromise safety for the sake to of cheaper rates offered by operators. Certified clubs and pilots are very important in addition to the safety equipment and measures.
Nitesh Shrivastav, Trekker and fitness expert says, “I have done paragliding couple of times, but, I think there should be more safety norms put in place. The pilots should be trained for wind pressure and weather conditions accurately before beginning the ride.
I remember speaking to the pilot and he told me that the parachutes are not changed often despite the need to change them at least once a year. Pilots are not certified most often and are just locals who have basic knowledge of paragliding.
Such incidents shouldn’t be ignored and the authorities and government should keep a track or conduct an audit of such adventure clubs to ensure the safety of tourists.
No common man can be expected to have in-depth knowledge about these sports and hence they are completely dependent on the pilots and the clubs, Nitesh added.
Paragliding can be very dangerous if the safety norms are not followed. In Maharashtra, it is quite much possible that the norms aren’t followed by a lot of organisers, says Vineeta Patil, a software designer and Hiking Enthusiast.
I have never tried Paragliding in Maharashtra, but I have have done it several times in Manali. I feel it is not really safe. There is supposed to be a technical panel which ensures the checks yearly, Pilot health is also checked alongwith the equipment..
However, looking at the equipment one can easily figure that they are not maintained and the risk is high. Maharashtra has great tourist attractions and if the government is allowing such sports, than the safety of the gliders should also be most important, Vineeta added.
#All views are those of the respondents and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.
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