Tandem Paragliding and Safety concerns

Updated: Jan 20

Adventure sports thrills but also kills.

It is evident from reported news and 10 deaths in last 5 years.




This blog is for anyone planning to do their first paragliding tandem or joyrides.

Ask yourself: is your life worth Rs 3500 or 2000 or the cheapest deal ?

Online deals and haggling with shopkeepers might not kill you, adventure sports, like paragliding, will.


The blog is divided into two main sections:

1). Understanding the Dangers of paragliding

2). How to be safe as a passenger

 

From accident reports and analysis, all paragliding mishaps can be classified into following:

  1. Pilot's fault

  2. Tandem company's fault

  3. Lack of safety rules, safety officer and enforcement

  4. Money and Greed

Note: A passenger is never at fault and considered as a sack of potatoes.


[1] It takes years and thousand hours of flying to take a life's responsibility in tandem paragliding.

An experienced pilot has knowledge of meteorology and flying in different conditions. Above all, an experienced tandem pilot knows when Not to fly.


It is pilot's responsibility to judge the weather for safe flying and wind conditions they can handle. From the moment pilot decides to fly, harnessing, takeoff, flight path and landing are pilot's responsibility.

Human error in these crucial stages of flying is minimized with experience.

And any error in paragliding can be fatal.


[2] Tandem company which books/provides paragliding joy rides, is as much responsible for safety as the pilot.

They provide the paragliding kits to pilots and its quality determines the safety levels.


Even a great pilot with poor quality kit cannot keep you safe in flight.

Evident from last reported death in bir billing, in which the passenger's harness came loose after takeoff.


[3] It is unfair for passengers to think/choose pilots and companies for their paragliding joy rides.

It is the responsibility of that flying sites associations to maintain safety standards.

Its enforced with giving licenses, auditing kits, pilot training, logging flights, regulating prices, determining flyable conditions, takeoff landing rules, safety officers, ambulances etc.


Bending rules is easy in India and we pride ourselves in it. Enforcement of safety rules in Bir-billing is the cause of all accidents, Not the lack of rules.


Note: As a paragliding passenger, please ask to see your pilot's license and do basic inspection of the kit.


[4] To understand the failures in above points, money and greed are the main reasons.


A pilot gets more money doing more flights in a day. And more on weekends and holiday seasons.

Haste makes waste, safety suffers when pilot is only concerned with doing multiple trips. Pilots get exhausted and forget many preflight safety checks.


A tandem company makes more money by having less pilots doing many flights and using paragliding kits unfit for flying.

Tandem paragliding kit costs upward of 4lakhs and lasts only 300 hours.

Many tandem companies continue using kits even after 700 hours of flying.


The passenger is also to be blamed, for the following reasons:

a). A tourist talks to many pilots and companies at takeoff, landing and online.

They are thinking of getting the best deal without understanding safety concerns.

The best deal in paragliding is Happy landings.


b). Lack of understanding of paragliding sports.

Tourists describe paragliding as 'jumping off' from mountains and trust their lives to pilots.

Note: Please watch youtube videos with keywords paragliding tandem rides and search reputed companies online.

Do not trust pilots offering cheap flights at takeoff and landings, individual pilots have no access to medical and rescue services.


Note: Because tandem prices are Not fixed in bir-billing, above safety problems are commonplace.

 
How tourists can choose tandem paragliding joy rides:

1). Safety in paragliding is Not cheap. Experienced pilot and companies have put in decades and crores of money.


2). Cheap tandem deals are offered by inexperienced pilots, without licenses and with unsafe paragliding kits.


3). Check/Ask pilot about their hours/years of flying experience, check/ask about glider's age and passenger's harness.

Note: Every glider has year of manufacturer, last safety check sewn into it. Your harness straps and buckles should fasten tightly. Check it by fastening it and then tugging on it. Do it yourself twice after pilot does your harnessing.


4). Basic weather safety. If you see gray clouds and it might rain Or the wind is blowing more than 30kmph, simply decline/refuse to fly, even with the best pilot and brand new kit. Check online for weather conditions for location and day you are planning paragliding tandem ride.

Note: If you feel uncomfortable at takeoff, shakeoff that peer pressure and refuse. Trust your instincts.


5). Check online credentials of pilots and companies. Check their customer reviews and social media.

There are no good pilots, only old pilots. This wise paragliding saying means that only good pilots survive in this sport and get old. A matured experienced pilot will always value safety above all and young guns tend to impress by cheap thrills.


6). Choose longer tandem flights durations.

Ask your pilot about the duration of flight offered. Remember, paragliding is solely dependent/limited by weather conditions. As a passenger, you are shit scared and it takes 10-15minutes for your mind to process the fear and start enjoying gliding. And then you are worried of landing. For many passengers, the tandem ride gets over before they start to enjoy it. Also, it takes a lot of pilot skills to fly for longer durations.


There are many more considerations and we will keep updating this blog.

We will also publish a video for tandem passenger on basic harnessing and paraglider inspection.


Please be safe and Happy landings.



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