Solo paragliding banned after two die in three days

Published On: March 6, 2019 05:00 AM NPT By: Santosh Pokharel

POKHARA, March 6: A Russian national died in a paragliding accident on Tuesday in the tourist-hub of Pokhara. He is the second person to die in a paragliding accident in three days. This has prompted the authorities to place temporary ban on the solo paragliding in Pokhara.

The deceased has been identified as Dmitri Stepanishin, 42. He crashed on taking off during a solo paragliding flight from Sarangkot, police said.

“He hit the hard ground with a thud at around 11 in the morning sustaining critical injuries. We rushed him to hospital where he died in the course of treatment,” informed Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Komal Shah of Baidam Police Post.

Before this, a Romanian pilot Ebe Chihjer, 42, died on Sunday after he lost control of his paraglider while landing and plunged into the Fewa Lake.

Four paragliding accidents have been recorded in Pokhara in the past three days alone. Along with the two deaths, two paragliders were injured. All four accidents were associated with solo paragliding.

In the past four years, paragliding accidents have claimed eight lives here. All these accidents, except one, involved solo paragliders. One accident involved tandem paragliding, in which one person is strapped into a harness in front of an experienced paraglider.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), the regulatory body, has announced a 15-day ban on solo paragliding 'to prevent more accidents'. CAAN's Pokhara office has blamed solo pilots' carelessness for the accidents.

“Pilots are not following the the rules. Their negligence and indiscipline have caused such accidents to increase,” said Bhola Prasad Guragain, CAAN-Pokhara chief said.

However, others have blamed the regulatory body and paragliding companies for the accidents. Experienced paragliding pilot Sanubabu Sunuwar said the foreign solo pilots are not provided even basic training before going for a paragliding flight in Nepal.

“Furthermore, nobody asks if they have the necessary experience. They charge them fees for recommendation and provide paragliding permission,” said Sunuwar. “However, nobody provides them information on Nepal's geographical situation, weather change and aviation laws. And accidents happen.”

CAAN has banned two paragliding companies – Blue Sky and Frontiers Paragliding – for their poor track record. The companies have been banned from operating all types of paragliding flights.

“We'll seek clarification from them and take action accordingly. If we didn't get satisfactory answer, they will be banned,” said chief Guragain.

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