Student blogs

art by Sreenath , Indian Navy

My Experiences of Learning Para-gliding with
PG Gurukul
Shon Fulzele
” Dream bigger. Do bigger”
Six years old, I was travelling enroute to Manali. Fluttering my eyes out
of the car window. We were just about to reach that all of a sudden I
saw something like a hollow bob floating. I squeezed out my vision
through the creeks of the thick Deodars out of that immature
excitement. As the vision got clearer I pointed it out and asked my dad
that what it was. Turns out it was a glider. As I was quite a saxicolous
child, I had no idea of it. I could ask him about the glider but all of it was
in front of me, right there. That’s when it struck me very hard that I
wanted to be the one under the bob. I wanted to feel the air against my
face as I soared thousands of feets above the ground.
I did not want to lose the opportunity to glide. So I requested my
parents. Obviously they denied the request as I was hardly 20
kilograms. Required kilograms were at least 40 for tandem rides. It was
quite expected that I would stubbornly cry but my parents my knew
how to handle that.
After many years, March, 2019 I was done with my matriculation and
had just given my board exams. I had a nice vacation after a long time
of struggle and now I had nothing in my way to tick that huge element
of my bucket list except my mom. It was undoubtedly genuine on her
part to be worried. And obviously paragliding as a sport had pretty
visible risks. It is in fact one of the riskiest sport. That was not a problem

for a long time as I had my dad by my side this time and he was quite

Getting Started with Team PG Gurukul

About forty miles from Dharamshala, It took me two hours to reach the
sights.I was probably asleep throughout the travelling part. Comforting
myself on the front seat with my face sunlit, all of a sudden there was
overcast for a second. Confused, I rolled the window down and forced
my face out of the car. And yup it was the giant wing. Proceeding few
miles through the village, into the landing sight there were many such
gliders on the to their landing. I got out of the car stretching myself,
taking a big relaxing yawn looking at the blue sky. That was not it, it
wasn’t the sky but the floating canopies. There were hundreds of such
making it look like a kite battlefield or a butterfly garden with gliders
instead of butterflies. For me it was a phenomenon that I had never
seen. I was so amazed that I couldn’t even complete my yawn, with
myjaw hanging and me not even realising.Adrenaline gushing through
my body, I got so excited and ran towards the office. I couldn’t wait to
start the training.
Mr. Jyoti Thakur, owner of Adventure Travel company/ tandem
company had a quick word with my dad and introduced me to Mr
Gurpreet Dhindsa, a celebrated International Para-glider and his PG
Gurukul Team.
It was Mr. Ravi. With a firm handshake we started with the
introduction of the course. It was my P1 course. To receive my
international paragliders pilot license I had to pass three courses: P1, P2
and P3. Mr. Ravi explained to me the structure of the glider, harness

and the risers. He had brought a whole sum kit with him. He unpacked
it and removed the glider at first. All basics done. P1 course was all
about ground handling of the glider. It is very important and the most
basic course. One might not be able to take off without learning the
ground handling techniques.
Ravi sir started of with a demonstration and I had to watch and learn.
So a glider has four risers or three risers depending upon the type of
the glider. My glider had four risers: A riser, A’ riser, B riser, C riser and
D riser. As I got into the harness I needed to learn how to hold the
risers while a take off. Rave sir explained me how to hold the A, B and D
riser and ‘scoop’. Well I didn’t learn it instantly, many times I ended up
tangling the D riser. Then eventually I got the knack of it. Further
holding the risers I had to pull pull and run with my hand straight and
behind my body until the bladder rose fair enough. Along the flow ,
then I had to ‘bend elbow’ that is to literally bend my elbows and bring
them forward and close to my body. And then with the flow, while
running, I had to leave all the other risers except the D riser and then
‘damp’. It means pulling the D riser with a jerk till my chest. D riser is
actually a break. ‘damp’ means to pull the breaks twenty percent, but
with a jerk. It is the only jerky motion in whole of the sport.Then I had
to run with my hands behind and that is when I would probably take

” Cross Learning- a way to learn wisdom”
The second day of my training, I met Rishabh sir. He was teaching
the same course to two other fellow students. We would train
together. My parents came over to the landing sight for the weekend. I
can say they probably came to check over me.After a few days

oftraining, my parents wanted to meet the trainer. I introduced Rishabh
sir to my parents. After quite a conversation with my parents, Rishabh
sir noticed the accent and asked if we were from Maharashtra. His
guess was correct but turns out he too was from Maharashtra,
Kolhapur. Being from the same state, we bonded pretty fast. He would
converse the commands or the mistakes I made in Marathi.
Mr Javed and Mr Kiran , the ones who were training with me were
really nice and uplifted me while I trained. In no time we too bonded.
We exchanged numbers and still are in touch. We would have our lunch
and dinner together. Mr Javed was from Gulmarg, Kashmir. He was a
skiing trainer and wanted to peruse speed riding. And Mr Kiran was an
Engineer from Bangalore and worked in Amazon LLC. I couldn’t have
such exposure anywhere else. Meeting new people, learning new
culture, listening to their stories and telling them my story, all of it was
unexpected but it felt good and from inside. I was fifteen and I had
never bonded with someone in such less time. But that’s how cross
learning is all about.

“A Journey of thousands mile starts with first step”

Four days of training and all of us qualified the P1 course.Now it was
time for us to approach the P2 course. All we were informed was that
we were suppose to take off from a small cliff. The flight would be of
about sixty-seventy seconds. Well it sounded decent but felt pretty
early but the excitement was to the peak. I couldn’t wait. We rested for
one day after the first course and started with the second one.
Dehlu was the name of the cliff or the take off point. We were
supposed to go there in a car. We all reported at the paragliding school

at 7.a.m in the morning, tied our glider to the roof support of the car
and left for Dehlu. Fifteen minutes and we reached. It was Mr. Gurpreet
Dhindsa who was supposed to instruct us.He is ranked as one of the
best pilots in India. There would be onewalkietalkie (radio)attached to
the harness and Dhindsa sir would have another one. This is how we
would be instructed while in air. Before the flight we were briefed
about how to change direction and the landing. So if I wanted to turn, I
had to do it with the ‘weight shift’ in that particular direction and just a
slight pull of the break of that side. And to land, I had to ‘flair’. That
means I had to pull the breaks all way from my shoulder level to my
waist when I’m about a meter or half above the ground. Even a small
misjudgement could lead to a undesirable landing.We were strictly
instructed not to jump, the glider would itself take off as we would run
with the weight against the chest strap.Ravi sir gave us the demo. He
took off swiftly and landed with a smooth ‘flair’ against the wind.
Amongst all three of us, I was the first one who was supposed to take
off.Obviously I was nervous, I couldfeel my blood gushing through me
veins. Well the cliff was not steep at all and the depth till the foot was
enough to break three-four bones if I fell down. Practically even if I
messed something up or there was a fault, I would possibly be alive
with a few fractures. Such thoughts in one’s mind would sound like a
nightmare. But for me staying alive was the main motive and so I
accepted it as a motivation.
Couldn’t help but courage up. I spread my glider behind me, wore the
harness and got all ready for the take off. We waited for the winds to
be favourable and as they were so, I was informed that this was the
time.All in position, Dhindsa sir yelled, “ go” . I started off with pulling
the glider with all my body weight and eventually running. Sir wouldn’t
take a breath butyell, “pull pull pull and go”.The ‘bend elbow’ and
‘damp’ were induced by me while running without, me even realising. It

was like it had become a reflex within me. As I ran, I could see the
ground falling down, or it seemed so. And yeah there it was, I was
flying. This was it, I had this really amazing feeling inside of me. All of a
sudden I realised the radio was vibrating, It was Dhindsa sir
yelling,”turn right, I repeat, turn right”. So amazed, I forgot about the
instructions. Further I realised, I forgot to sit on the harnesses. With a
flight of about forty-fifty seconds I landed with a pretty decent ‘flair’
after being instructed. I really had to work on it.
Javed and Kiran also had a great flight. We congratulated each
other for our first flight. To follow through and complete the course we
had to have a total of at least six flights. That was the minimum
requirement. Two flights each day, we completed the course in four

Preparing for jump from 4500 Metre- Lessons for P3
One relaxing week and I was back to Bir Billing. Whole of the vacation I
was restless and excited as it included flying from Billing, that is to say
I’d have a flight of fifteen-twenty minutes. Billing is a part of
Dhauladhar range of lesser Himalaya chain of mountains with elevation
around 4500 meters.It was the default take off sight of every
paraglider. The first day I was asked to practise ground handling of the
glider toreplenish the reflexes.
The first day I did what the asked me to. Well in weeks time,I’m certain
one wouldn’t lose such reflexes and so mine were perfect. I was all
ready for the third course. I just had one disadvantage which I couldn’t
help at that point, that was my weight. I was hardly hundred and ten
pounds, where as the favourable weight was hundred and forty

pounds. With such numbers I could not take off on windy days. For this
reason I had to be delayed for one day. I was all ready at the take-off
sight but the winds were not favourable. I feared if I could complete my
P3 course with such weight.
The next day we again gave it a try. This time we went a little bit early.
This is because more the sun is down, less will be the wind. I was all
ready with the radio attached to my harness. There was Mr. Arun at the
take off sight and Dhindsa sir at the landing sight.Arun sir briefed about
the flight time and landing angle. The moment I’m about at an angle of
sixty degrees to the landing sight, I had to figure out the direction of
wind. Then I had to soar through and forth in orderlose elevation and
approach the landing against the direction of the wind.
The moment Arun sir said on the radio, “Sir, winds seem favourable we
might let him take off in a bit.”I got all jittered up, extremely nervous. If
I messed anything up, there was no way I would survive.I could feel my
heart pumping within me, all my veins popped out. It felt like my heart
was going to explode. I was all pumped up and sweaty.
Arun sir called me out to take position. I couldn’t help but take deep
breaths and follow through. All in position I could feel the slight breeze
against my face and Arun sir yelled, “go.” I pulled pulled, ran , ‘bend
elbow’, ‘damp’ and ran with all my body weight against the chest strap
and the glider took off. It was a swift take off. I tumbled backwords in
order to sit on the harness. As I herd Arun sir on the radio, “Nice take
off, sit back relax and approach the landing sight. ”I calmed down,
taking a last deep breath. Sitting under the canopy, I could see the
world. All of it seemed a huge LEGO set from up there. I resisted even
blinking. The Dhauladhars seemed so radiant. All of seemed like bonds
of eternity, The Dhauladhars and the clear blue skies, the blending rays
of the Sun into every fraction and the glider and me. I couldn’t help but

fall in love with everything and most importantly the glider. If it wasn’t
for the glider, I wouldn’t be here. That moment I remembered the time
I sawthe hollow bob floating and now I couldn’t believe I was under it.
All of it was a paradise.That was quite a moment for me.
Few minutes and I was sixty degrees to the landing sight, I couldn’t
figure out the wind direction. Fortunately I had the radio attached,
through which Dhindsa sir informed me the direction of wind. I wasn’t
quite confident about the landing so I followed what Dhindsa sir
instructed me. I landed with a smooth ‘flair’. I really needed to work on
my landing approach. I had more five flights to go, in which I had to
gain perfection.
In the next five flights I was suppose to perform some exercises like
‘bunny ears’, stalls etc. I swiftly followed and completed all my
exercises. Now I wouldn’t fear any of it. The only aim I had in mind was
to get better and eventually the best in this sport. Well I was just fifteen
so I could not have my flying license. This August, that is August, twenty
nineteen, I’d turn sixteen and that is when I would get my paragliders
pilot license. I wish to master this sport and compete in the world cups
on behalf of my nation.

Learning Para-gliding – Lessons for Life
Here it was my journey from being just another kid who’d get
excited seeing a floating hollow bob to the one under the canopy. I was
just in no mood to leave this place. I asked Dhindsa sir if I could
complete the next course at a stress. He said that the weather is not
favourable and further the monsoon was approaching. He asked me to
come in October that is the best weather for paragliding. I made up my

mind and bid goodbye to Bir Billing and promised myself to go back to
that amazing place in October.
This whole jaunt was not only about paragliding but a lot more. Like
any other sport, paragliding taught me a lot more out of syllabus and
turned me into something better. It changed or modified , I’d rather
say, the way I approached the daily situations. It improved my decision
making. During that period I was reading this book- ‘Thinking Fast And
Slow’, by Daniel Kahneman.It was all about two system of our conscious
mind. That included System 1: fast thinking system and System 2: slow
thinking. One might guess that paragliding requires System 1 but that’s
not right as it leads to irrational decisions.In paragliding decisions are to
made there and then, within fractions of seconds but they need to be
logically with immediate and perfect observations. Which is the job of
System 2. Practising this sport improved my System 2 thinking. This is
what I could now induce in my day to day life.It taught me how to face
my fear or face each of that moment in which adrenaline gushed
through out my circulatory system in a calm state of mind. It made me
to be more subtle in any given situation and gave me the courage to
face it.

About Author-:
Author, Shon Fulzele studies in The British School, Chandigarh.
Currently in XII grade.Shon is a adventure sports freak. Loves testing his
abilities. He is also a state level wall climber. Avid traveller, Trekker and
Music lover.

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