Fly-Guiding in the Himalaya

Thursday 10 March, 2011
Paragliding in Billing with Himalayan Sky Safaris. Photo: HSS

Paragliding in Billing with Himalayan Sky Safaris. Photo: HSS

Himalayan Sky Safaris, the paragliding guides who operate almost exclusively in the Greater Ranges, have announced new dates for their autumn trips.

The team of expert pilots will be running two 10-day trips, from 13-22 October and 23 October to 1 November 2011.

The guiding collective will include Jim Mallinson, John Silvester, Debu Choudhury, Antoine Laurens, Adam Hill and Eddie Colfox. All are expert pilots who together they have thousands of hours of experience flying the Himalaya.

Depending on price, guiding ratios of 1:1, 1:2 or 1:3 are promised. Prices range from £2,200 for the one-to-one guiding to £1,200 for the three-to-one guiding.

The price includes seven days guided flying in a 10-day tour.

“Prices vary on the guide to pilot ratios,” explained Eddie Colfox, “as will the areas we are prepared to explore. The level of assistance available will clearly be more for the smaller ratios and therefore we will be able to do more, more safely.”

The Himalayan site of Billing has turned from an adventurous destination to an almost package holiday location in recent years, with several hundred pilots a year traveling to the north Indian village of Bir during October and November.

However, the increase in pilot numbers has seen a big uptick in accidents. In 2009 two pilots died and there were minor accidents almost every day.

“The site seems straightforward to fly but the mountains are huge and demand respect,” explained Eddie. “The simplest, quickest and safest way to learn about the place and to fly to places most people don’t is to fly with a guide.”

Local pilot Debu Choudhury has also set himself up as an independent guide to the region, offering tours to Manali, Billing and Pokhara. Manali-born and bred he has flown paragliders in the region since he was 16 and now works as a tandem pilot in Europe in summer. He set an Indian record two years ago with a 200km out-and-return along the Himalaya from Billiing/Bir.

“When in Bir and Manali I will be available for guiding on a daily basis through my new company Hi-Fly,” he said. “I will be offering XC clinics and XC tandems in Bir during autumn and spring. For pilots new to the area it will be a good way to discover the site.”

For more information, see the respective websites:

Himalayan Sky Safaris

Hi Fly India

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