Nirvana Paragliding Club, Kamshet, takes a trip to Panchgani
It was a weekday trip, Monday to Wednesday. While the rest of the world was waking up to go to work, a privileged set of pilots were off on a flying trip. The Nirvana Pilot team gathered in full force and excitement knew no bounds. The Panchgani plan included 16 people, three vehicles, an enormous pile of gliders of all persuasions, all soaked with excitement.
The convoy left on Monday morning, weaving in and out of traffic and crossing some interesting mountains we arrived at our campsite in Panchgani.
Highlights: interesting flying, beautiful landscape, starry nights around the bonfire, fun laughter and camaraderie and most of all, a seemingly unlimited supply of fresh strawberries.
The Flying : The first day’s flights were somewhat interesting as the wind went from strong to nil at random intervals, so we all got ready and then parawaited for a little bit and then, after a while, a gust came. Suddenly, the takeoff turned from a comatose parking lot full of slightly bored onlookers to something vaguely resembling New York’s JFK airport, as we had a takeoff approximately every 20 seconds. Bang, bang, bang, bang, everyone popped into the sky, and the fun began! First day’s flying yielded some nice climbs to nearly 2000 metres, plus a number of nicely executed top landings.
Panchgani is known for relatively difficult and potentially dangerous conditions on top landing, but under Ravi’s watchful eye (and everyone equipped with radios) we all kept safe and happy. After a couple of hours we flew down, some on top, some on the bottom, and then overindulged in an irresistible local speciality: strawberries and cream.
Next day we opted for an easy start as the conditions were not expected to be exceptional. After lunch, we turned up at the takeoff, and it all repeated. Some folk made it up to 2000 again. The sky was covered in colourful gliders, the takeoff was covered in dusty locals (plus one mildly confused camel), and then, by the end of the day, my face was covered in strawberries. And cream.
On the last day we packed up, got ready to check out, and headed out to the takeoff.
Farmer and Pilot – Ravi Shelar negotiates landing issues with a smile.
After everyone’s lovely flights, we piled back into the van, but not before being confronted by a mildly intoxicated farmer who demanded money for scaring his bull. Ravi solved the problem with cunning use of rupees, and the rest of us celebrated by purchasing a ridiculous amount of strawberries…
It turned out that between the lot of us we had packed away some 15 kilograms of strawberries, 5 kg of honey, and a number of bottles of juice before making it back to Kamshet.
Judging by the smiles in everyone’s photos, the mission was an overwhelming success!
Peace, Bliss, Strawberries’n’Cream