We had two: a great flier, and a great machine. I, the third, captured this amazing man and his beautiful machine in action, at Jakkur airfield.
Nikolai Singh runs the Meghalaya Paragliders Association, and he is the only paraglider pilot recognized by the Indian DGCA. He has a quality important for an aviator: He longs to leave the ground, yet knows his limits. He is constantly aware of what’s important, always keeping safety in mind. Rarely does he say, “let’s push it”, and when he says that, he more than knows what he is doing.
Nikolai has done some amazing work for brands such a Coca Cola, Vodafone (and a lot others; I will need to spend a week with him to document the “Chronicles of Nikolai”), and has had the Election Commission as a client many a time. Laser Flying, Projector Flying, Aerial Surveys, Videography: name it, and he’s done it, all with legal permits that he diligently keeps a record of!
Here are some photos (and a video at the end of this photo-entry) capturing what takes place, in brief, before a non-rigid wings takes you to the skies. Preparation is key; safety is paramount; everything else comes much later down the line. Which is why I felt absolutely comfortable and safe flying with him.
Nikolai runs his Cruiser Powered Paraglider (PPG), minus the wing, on the runway, making sure everything is right.
Once satisfied that all’s well, he positions the not-so-heavy Cruiser on the centreline. Honestly speaking, he doesn’t need a runway: he can take off from almost anywhere that satisfies his safety criteria.
His boys help him with the “de-flated” glider wing, securing the strings to the Cruiser. Nikolai checks every tie, to make sure all is in order.
Nikolai gets in, and straps himself in place. He’s checked everything, and knows he can assure his passenger’s safety.
Nik, strapped in, grabs the stings that he plays with. By deforming the wing, he achieves roll, yaw, and aerodynamic braking.
- With the sun, and people he trusts behind him, he ensures the strings are free and good.
The non-rigid para-glider wing is actually more like a “biplane”. The ducts between the upper and the lower surface are responsible for the non-rigid wing to inflate and take shape, when sufficient airflow is available. By kick starting the engines, and applying take off power, the wing inflates, and rises. After that, it is sheer skill and experienced timing that ensures the wing remains up and inflated!
With sufficient airspeed and a well controlled wing, Nikolai takes us up, up and away, flying at between 40-50km/h!
Although the winds were significant, making Nikolai cut short the flight, the ride was smooth! One of the most comfortable air rides I’ve ever had, more comfortable and a lot more fun than that in a jetliner!
Watch a short clip here, of the takeoff: