Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My GHAC trip for Paragliding in Kamshet

 Paragliding at Kamshet with GHAC
Did you ever want to fly like a bird? The idea of soaring in the sky always gave me the thrill and one of the dreams that I nurtured since my childhood. So, when GHAC gave me the opportunity to learn Paragliding, there was no way I could miss it. One evening, the GHAC group set off from Paradise Fire Station in Hyderabad to Pune by bus, along with our organizer Jamila Kapasi, who is an avid traveler. We reached Pune early next morning and set off on a local train to Kamshet (45 km from Pune). The vehicle of Indus Paragliding was waiting outside the station and took us to the training base – our home for the next 2 days. The ‘Base’ includes accommodation for staff, students and guests – secluded from the main town, thus avoiding the noise of the city and giving you peace and calm during the entire training duration. There was also a beautiful lake in front of the cottages and it was a beautiful sight.

View from the cottage top

After freshening up, we completed the registration process over breakfast with our instructors Yogi (nicknamed “The flying Yogi”, for his dedication to Paragliding for more than ten years) and Pankaj. After breakfast, we were shown an introductory video on paragliding and the equipment used in the sport. After that, we had a theory session along with a brief summary of the course contents and the plan for the next 2 days. After lunch, we headed to a secluded spot for our first practical training class. Pankaj Sir gave us an introduction to the paraglider’s wing or canopy, fitting of the harness and checking of safety gears.

GHAC team understanding the canopy and its intricacies

We were then asked to practice inflation and deflation of the glide, forward / Alpine launch method along with the packing and unpacking of the bag which contained the equipment. It was a daunting task that required a lot of effort but was able to manage it over a period of time. It was interesting to learn the positions “A”, “B”, “C” & “D” and their significance in the sport. After a few hours of practice, we returned to the base by dusk. We spend the evening discussing the learnings of the day.
Day 2 began early as we got ready and left the institute by 6:30 am for flight practice. We went to Shinde hill which we climbed partially for “hops” (low level flights). We had to gear up and then jump from the cliff, fly and land in the ground below. It was an amazing experience flying in the air even though it was for a few seconds. I remembered being totally scared during the first hop but Yogi Sir patiently guided us through the walkie-talkie and helped us navigate properly. I was almost about to land in a bush of thorns but narrowly managed to escape. The difficult task was to collect the canopy and to climb back the hill with the heavy load in hand – I struggled to manage that. All of us got the chance to fly at least three hops. We also learned how to turn in the air and the landing procedure. It was funny to watch most people landing on their back, though you are supposed to land on your feet. All our flights were recorded on video for viewing later in the day.
My first hop

After 3 to 4 hours of practice, we returned to the institute tired and excited. We all took quick showers and sat down hungrily for lunch. Here I would like to mention that the staff at the institute was amazing cooks and the home cooked meal was delicious every time. Post lunch, we sat near the lake and enjoyed ourselves. In the evening, Pankaj Sir showed us the videos of our individual flights and explained the errors that we made. It was thrilling to see us flying and as predicted, all of us could see how scared (and therefore stiff) we were during the first flight. Some of the videos were really funny to watch as sometimes we were all doing exactly opposite to what the instruction provided (confusing the positions “A”, “B”, “C” & “D” respectively). The excitement in the room was fun and contagious. Yogi Sir and Pankaj Sir made us practice the positions again at the institute in a simulated glider. I can never forget this day and waiting for some more equally thrilling experience tomorrow.
 Practicing different positions in the simulated glider

Day 3 also began early and like earlier days, we went to Shinde Hill for today’s flight session. We were faced with disappointment as there was a heavy mist and hence no wind. Pankaj Sir told us that we cannot fly unless there is wind, so we all started praying. Today is our last day in Kamshet, and we don’t want to miss the opportunity of flying today – Yesterday’s experience actually increased our appetite and we were all hungry for more flights.
Team GHAC on the way to Shinde Hill with the heavy bag carrying the canopy, harness etc. 

To while away the time, we did some time pass activities including all of us dancing to Gangnam style. The guys also did some mock action and fight scenes which we enjoyed. The group was extremely energetic and fun and it actually made the experience even more memorable. After an hour, the mist lifted and wind started to blow. We quickly geared up and this time climbed the top of the hill for a better flight position. We all flew one after another. What an amazing and unforgettable experience that was!! My first flight today was more than a minute as I covered a lot of height and distance. Everyone was scared below that I would lose the walkie-talkie coverage but Yogi Sir guided me beautifully. We all are totally grateful to him for giving us the most memorable moments of our lives. While I was trying to land during my second flight, there was a group of buffalos walking underneath and I was scared that I might land either on top of them or in their midst. Everyone kept teasing me about that later; however, again I had a narrow escape. Today, some local boys helped carry our bags in return for a few bucks. The energy and enthusiasm of those boys was amazing. They even helped fill up our bottles when we ran out of water. The boys were constantly running up and down the hill carrying bags for each of us.
All good things come to an end and soon our time to fly got over. It was time for us to return to our institute proudly carrying out the log books and the certification that we completed the elementary course in Paragliding J Thank you GHAC for giving me this opportunity to fulfil my dream – An unforgettable experience of my life!! Would like to come back for the next level courses as well J

My Flight 

Team GHAC celebrating successful completion of Elementary Paragliding course

Over all it was a wonderful experience and I am looking forward to more activities with GHAC, if you would like to participate in GHAC adventure activities then visit the GHAC site to find more details.

About Author:
 Ipsita Mukherjee: Like the name of my blog-(Wanderlust-My travel diary), I love travelling and capturing images of the places I travel through my trusted camera. Given a chance I would love to travel 365 days of the year, however, my job in the corporate industry does not give me that luxury. I work as a Training Manager in a BPO. I have decided to start writing about my travels and share my experiences with others. My intention is to inspire people to travel

disclaimer: The views expressed in the post are of the author and not necessarily represent GHAC. If you would like to write for GHAC blog please check the contribution guidelines.

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