“Paramotoring as a wheelchair user”
Paramotoring is a good adventure sport for people with disabilities. It does not require much use of hands and legs. If you’re accompanied by a trained professional, then you just have to sit back, relax and enjoy the joy ride.
On a not so sunny day, I got the opportunity to do paramotoring in Bangalore. The location was Jakkur Airfield inside the city. When I reached the location, I saw a lot of people do paragliding. There were no tall hills in the area, the paraglider canopy was being pulled by a jeep. Youngsters would go up at one end of the airfield and glide down at the other end. The paramotoring area was adjacent to this.
I met the instructor, explained my physical limitations to him and we discussed how I was going to take the paramotoring ride. He was optimistic about giving me a good experience.
You can check out my entire ride in the video below. It includes shifting from wheelchair to the paramotor, takeoff, the view from the top and landing.
I shifted to the paramotor. As we were gearing up there was a huge wave of wind and suddenly the parachute started to blow up, pulling the paramotor behind. Thankfully there were many people around me to hold the paramotor and pull the strings attached to the parachute. I would have gone on a free flight otherwise 😉 We were able to capture the moment on camera. Check out the gif below.
I have a lot of spasticity i.e. tightness in my legs. I was worried about getting a spasm when the paramotor goes over the land during takeoff. To my surprise, the wheels of the paramotor are filled with air that makes the ride extremely smooth.
We slowly went up in the air and my view widened from the runway to the entire airfield to the Bangalore skyline comprising of apartments and houses around the airfield. It was a very peaceful as well as a noisy environment. Peaceful because you’re gliding in the air and noisy because the sound of the propeller is deafening. You cannot even hear yourself shout.
After the initial anxiousness, I relaxed my body and started enjoying the view. As we were moving forward, turning left and right, a slight breeze brushed my face. It was good that the day was cloudy, there was no harsh sun or heat. A flight of white birds was passing by the area. Some black colored ones were flying in circles near the airfield. There were not many people on the ground, just my family, and a few other paragliding enthusiasts. It felt pretty amazing and light.
My concern areas
After shifting to the paramotor, I found myself nicely tucked in a bucket seat. It was made of fabric and comfortable to sit. The instructor buckled the straps around my waist and thighs. But frankly, the straps were not too tight. The fit of the helmet was also lose.
Since I am a quadriplegic, my body balance is not that great. I tend to fall forward if the back of my chair is extremely straight, hence I always keep my wheelchair backrest in a reclined position. The good part about paramotoring ride is that whether it is takeoff and landing, the seat of the instructor sitting behind you is always below. Which means that if you are sitting in the front then you will never have to bend forward. However, what would have made me more comfortable during the ride is shoulder straps.
There are very few adventure sports that can be customised for people with disabilities. Paramotoring is definitely one of them. It is safe, does not take much time, and leaves you an experience of a lifetime. I will do it again and also recommend you all to try to out at least once.
Whoa Mrunmaiy. You really almost got blown away. A brave soul too, flying high above terra firma. Still working on my fear of heights so maybe one day I can do some gliding stuff. I did enjoy my ground level visit to Bangalore, but being in the air up there is the next step.
This looks awesome! I have to try this sometime 🙂
Thanks Alex. I wish that you get to try this soon 🙂