- 130 pilots representing 35 countries taking part in the competition
- Event organized by Billing Paragliding Association and concludes on 31st October
The Paragliding World Cup 2015 got underway with Union Minister of Civil Aviation P Gajapati Raju flagging off the pilots from the Billing launch site here on Saturday. “The picturesque setting of Bir-Billing provides a perfect backdrop for the biggest aero sport event in the country,” said the minister.
Despite overcast conditions, the pilots took to the skies amidst cheers of encouragement from the crowds that thronged Billing. The local Billing Paragliding Association is the organisers of the event, while the Airports Authority of India (AAI) is the title sponsor.
“We are confident that the Paragliding World Cup will take the sport to the next level,” Sudhir Sharma, president of the local association said.
For the first time GPS-aided GEO augmented navigation (GAGAN), an India SBAS (Satellite Based Augmentation System) Programme jointly developed by the India Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the AAI will be used for live tracking of the pilots.
The AAI is providing the pilots with GAGAN signals for accurate navigation and tracking facility. For the first time GAGAN-enabled accord receivers have been put to use in the Indian airspace.
Home hopes lie on Ajay Kumar at the Paragliding World Cup
The Indian challenge will be led by Ajay Kumar, who is the country’s one of the most experienced pilots. The field at the AAI Paragliding World Cup is one of the strongest on the tour. The top-ranking pilots who are participating in the event are Julien Wirtz of France, who has been ranked World No. 1, Vidic Jurij of Slovenia, Julien Wirtz of France and Torsten Siegel of Germany. Jurij, Wirtz and Siegel held the spots second, third and fourth, respectively, in the world and also in Europe.
The Billing Paragliding Association formed in 2006 had successfully organised the Pre-World Cup of Paragliding here in 2013.
The association is the only organisation recognised by the Aero Club of India, which in turn is the only body recognised by Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), the world governing body for air sports, and the Paragliding World Cup Association (PWCA).
Bir-Billing is considered one of the most natural locations for the paragliding and is about 60 km from Kangra town.
The take-off site at Billing, situated at an altitude of 2,325 metres, has been refurbished to enable 15 to 50 gliders to take off simultaneously. The landing site at Bir, located at 1,360 metres, has also been expanded for safe landing.