Gaurav Kandel is a paragliding pilot and co-owner of Buddha Paragliding Pvt Ltd. He has been in the field of Tourism for five years. Kandel did his basic paragliding course from Indus Paragliding School, Pune, India, and has been working as a paragliding pilot for the past three years. He was the first runner-up in ‘spot landing’ category in Accuracy Championship organized by Nepal Paragliding and Hand Gliding Association in 2016.
Republica’s Sonam Lama caught up with Kandel to talk about experience and setbacks during his journey.
What are the challenges of being a paragliding pilot?
Unlike other professions, the outer environment plays a significant role in our work. Every journey is new and invites new challenges every time. The efforts that we put into our work are hardly visible, but it takes much skills and tactics to hold control over the flight at a height of 1,500m. We also have to deal with unpredictable change in weather, like ‘cloud shock’, which turns to be risky quite often.
How long is the training process?
The first requirement is a two-week basic paragliding course that includes theory classes and training related to ground handling. Once we are done with the courses, we are trained to monitor flight movements for two years. It is after being trained for two years should we become able to get license and do tandem flights.
Has the scenario of the paragliding business improved?
Yes, the scope of paragliding has widened. As an individual who has been associated with the field of tourism for the past five years, I have certainly witnessed growth in this field. There were times when I had to go to India for paragliding courses because of limited programs available in Nepal. However, the scenario today has changed positively. It has been yielding favorable outcomes and opportunities for the paragliding pilots although many improvements have to be done.
How has commercial paragliding evolved?
Since Nepal has been generating good revenue from tourism, the trend is certain to continue. Commercial paragliding started some two decades ago. As long as people are willing to travel to new places, gather new experiences and adventure, the field of paragliding has a lucrative future.
What should be done to boost the paragliding sector?
Having acknowledged that Pokhara is one of the famous spots for tourism and paragliding, we can further contribute to boost these sectors. In order to get these areas flourished on a commercial basis, I believe the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation needs to take issues related to tourism into due consideration and the government should introduce policies for the sector’s promotion. Moreover, the establishment of paragliding schools and institutions could be a prime contribution in context of Nepal.