World of India!: Get Sporty : Fly on, my sweet angel..... e

World of India!

Fire at will.

Get Sporty : Fly on, my sweet angel.....

I have always wanted to try out Gliding and its variants. So when I learned that Pune actually has a Gliding centre run by the Government of India, in Hadapsar (Pune), I was a bit surprised. Surprised because very few people in Pune (except the ones living close to the Centre, I guess), seem to be aware of this facility. Which is a pity, because this lack of marketing has ensured that the facilities of this Centre, which are paid by the Tax Payer, are not being fully utilized by the verypeople who shell the money.

I called up the Centre and was informed that yes, the institute does conduct gliding courses, but only full time, during weekdays! Incredibly they don’t cater to the huge section of people who are working and can therefore find time only on weekends. Naturally, there aren't too many people queuing up to join the course. The Centre allows your glider to be parked here (for a fee), if you happen to have pockets deep enough to buy one (I was told that there are virtually no companies which manufacture a glider and therefore has to be imported at a steep price running into tens of lakhs of rupees- hardly a salaried mans game this). Naturally, the few owner pilots I met on the Sunday seemed all retired and well heeled gents of the pipe/cigar smoking variety. One of them had just imported a new glider from Czechoslovakia and had come to give it a go.

The Government Glider Pilot Babus which run the place seem to have a vested interest in operating the place like this. Naturally, if they throw open the Centre to the general public for training courses, on timings suitable to them, they will have to work and that will be an unpleasant change. Much better to use the tax payer’s money and use it to go for a spin by themselves.

The only bit they do (that too grudgingly) is offer Joy rides to the general public on Sundays (Be warned: An hour long wait is mandatory). The ticket for a 10 minute ride- Rs. 188/-. The dead -as- balls-accurate pricing is a bit amusing.

An employee took me up for 10 minutes in one of the gliders. It was some thing else...!!! The glider takes off after a short winch pull and climbs rather steeply. You would expect to hear the sound of the engine- but of course, there is none! A glider flies only on hot air currents moving up, after you are airborne and the winch is dis-engaged. The wind swooshes across the fragile canopy in gusts while the pilot of controlling the frail craft. It’s a little bit like flying in a commercial aircraft in turbulent weather, minus the cozy environs of a Jet, where you don’t feel the outside speed or hear the noise AND when pilot tells you that the engines have failed. You can keep going down a little and up a little, depending on the air currents. The pilot kept talking on the talkie with the ground control and the manner in which he was talking gave me an impression of urgency and panic (or maybe it was just my nerves). I made the mistake of asking the pilot how many people had been killed doing this and he replied that there have been 3-4 fatalities, in this Centre, but the last one was 10 years ago. I wondered if the law of averages would play catch up now...

It was time to get down. I swore I would not try this again…but I am sure I would.

I have tasted blood...

P.S: For a complete understanding of the Gliding scene in India

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September 11, 2006 4:03 PM

HI - I saw your blog about Gliding in Pune. I am interested in going there myself and was wondering if you can send me the address and a contact number if there is one? Also, wanted to know if you have come accross any club offering flying lessons in (around) Pune?


September 11, 2006 11:07 PM

Go to Hadapsar in Pune (its after the race course). The govt gliding centre is right on the main road there....i dont have the detailed postal address with me, unfortunately.

You can use Just dial -22222222- to know their tel number.

I will try and see if i can find the detailed address/tel, if possible.    

December 09, 2006 1:15 AM

Yes it is a pity that the center is not operated professionally and is under utilized, I have had a chance to fly there in 1996. I am really very interested in gliding and have done quite a few launches when I was in NCC. After goin gthru this post I guess now I'll pursue my love of flying some time soon.    

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