Hand gliding and paragliding can be drawn under the category of flying free- that entails using air currents to fly than using the support of engine power. In the case of hand gliding, you are suspended in a horizontal position in a swing harness from the center of the keel under a ridged canopy- and need to maintain control by shifting your weight with the help of an airframe. Paragliding these days is becoming a new fad with the enthusiasts of this kind of sport. The execution management of moving a hand glider is more cumbersome than a paraglider which can be carried in a bag quite easily to the place of flight. If you are just getting interested – you are cautioned to learn from a Guru if you have no plans of breaking your limbs or have a landing that is disastrous and has a landing that can break your back all your life.
But will you believe this?
I was flying a paraglider in Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand in India. While training in a glider, two thunderstorms quickly formed and merged into one. As I tried to avoid one storm I got caught in the updraft of the other. According to the GPS unit and tracking log, I was lifted high into the thunderstorm at a rate of about 60 feet per second to an amazing altitude of 22,000 feet which is high. My wet clothes turned to ice and froze to my body. Encased in ice and without oxygen I passed out and for most of my 60-minute flight, I remained unconscious and was subjected to -50°F temperatures, tennis ball-sized hail, and lightning.
If getting caught in the updraft wasn’t bad enough, I also faced the dangers of getting caught in a downdraft which caused my paraglider to descend at a rate of 90 feet per second. As my glider spiraled out of control on the final descent, I passed through 18,069 feet where I regained consciousness, scraped the ice from the GPS unit, and tried to fly the glider, frostbitten and battered. Everyone including the paragliding club that organizes the air trips thought I was no more alive. “Incredible” my wife exclaimed when she did see me open up my eyes. The doctors eventually proclaimed that I would have not lived today if I had not passed off. as this caused the heart and other vital organs to slow down to conserve heat and energy. Frostbite, cuts, and bruises I did get as my gift for this adventure. I will still suggest all my friends try this sport. After all, aren’t all sports adventurous? The more risk it has, the better you feel winning it.