This video, this single video, describes in absolute brief what we do, and what we face everyday. We hope to take-off at a designated time, but the winds do not always stand in our favour, making us not fly all our plans. When this video starts, you will see Nikolai explaining to the Deputy Commissioner, Bijapur, why the planned 7:00AM flight around Bijapur did not happen: he was very uncomfortable with the winds. The winds were anything but steady, and were pure crosswinds to the length of the field we hoped to use for takeoff. Wind speeds touched 20km/h, gusting. For the Powered Para Glider, which lacks a rigid wing and cruises at between 40-50km/h airspeed, such winds are anything but comfortable to fly with a trike, passenger, and a non-aerobatic para-gliding wing.
The video shows the windsock, and how it lacked direction, and was inconstant with winds experienced just 100 meters away. We also witnessed a dust-devil which (very hilariously, I must say), Nikolai verbally reacted to. Finally in the evening, when things appeared to be comparatively relaxed, but still turbulent, Nikolai took up in his aircraft his crew member, who had with him a bag full of pamphlets printed by the Election Commission, to drop from the air. Attached to Nikolai’s glide was a banner, with words in Kannada urging people to vote.
The takeoff was a close shave, as Nikolai struggled with the uncooperative winds, which forced him to use the width of the field as opposed to the length. Notice how close the powered para glider came to the football goal post and proximate trees, before climbing out to between 200 and 300ft AGL. Nikolai still had to struggle with gusts in flight!
The highlight of the day was the flight around the Gol-Gumbaz, which was requested by the Chief Election Officer at Bijapur. The Flying Engineer planned the flight, and the result is absolutely fantastic! We have the sky-down and the ground-up shots, and these make the whole day worth it. Absolutely worth the heat, the wait, the hours of disappointment, for an evening shot of the Gol Gumbaz, Bijapur! (The Gol Gumbaz (Persian گل گنبذ Gol Gombadh meaning “rose dome”) has the world’s second largest dome, after St. Peter’s Basilica. The Gol Gumbaz is the mausoleum of Mohammed Adil Shah, Sultan of Bijapur, and was completed in the year 1656 AD.)
This kind of flying is absolutely off-beat, with a non-rigid wing, low flying, and an “open” aircraft. The flights (weather permitting), co-ordination, and conduct are absolutely satisfying at the end. What finally brings a smile to us is the crowd, that cheer and look up at the aircraft. In one shot, the whole city or town is abuzz with excitement, while we drop the pamphlets, attaining our goal of effectively reaching out to almost every eligible voter in the most unexpected of ways: from the skies above.