Meet the Solo Women Paragliders Soaring the Sky in Bir Billing

Solo Women Paragliders in Bir-Billing

Himachal Pradesh is home to some of the most stunning mountain towns.  Engulfed by the Western Himalayas, this state is one of the uber-popular paragliding places in India. Especially, Bir-Billing is known for all its adventure activities. We’re sure if you’re a travel and adventure enthusiast, you’d have heard of Bir Billing and the paragliding scene here. 2015 World Championship was held in Bir and ever since it has gained mainstream popularity for paragliding in India. Guess what, it has inspired women paragliders to find their sky as well!

In line with various areas of life where women are breaking the glass ceilings, one heartening and inspiring trend we’re seeing is the increasing number of women paragliders! There was a time when one would rarely hear about women paragliders leave alone see them on the field. Moreover, it was considered to be a rather adventurous activity to be pursued by women. But things are changing for good and we’re so pumped to see women mastering the art of paragliding and breaking so many stereotypes attached with adventure activities and sports.

Recently, we had a pleasure to interact with Aditi Thakur and Meenu Yadav who have taken to paragliding.  They were kind enough to share their respective journeys as solo-pilots with us. Aditi is just 18 years old and in the final year of her NCC. She has clocked 100+ hours of solo flying while Meenu is someone who moved to the mountains in search of a quiet life along with her husband Amit. 

Inspiration for Women Paragliders

Bir is a special place that way. If you’re here during the flying season (ideally autumn but pretty much throughout the year except rains now), you’d see the sky dotted with tens of paragliders and the landing site is like a large field of happy faces- first time tandem flyers or people learning to paraglide and the experienced pilots. As for inspiration, Aditi says, “I was always interested in paragliding as a child. With encouragement from my father, I could realize my dream.” 

Aditi Thakur - women paragliders in India
Aditi Thakur

For Meenu, the place came first and everything else just organically happened! She says, “Bir can offer smooth comfortable conditions on most days of the year for beginner pilots. Easy access to take off and open landing areas all around gives confidence to beginner pilots to try cross country flights.” 

Wondering how long does it take to learn paragliding in India or elsewhere? Well, paragliding is a wonderful mix of science and art. One has to be patient and keep practising. People have learnt flying within a month and some people take it easy over a few months. It is mainly about effort and practice. For Aditi, it was the month-long training course (P1, P2, P3 courses) and she was able to take her first professional flight. Feel free to reach out to us in case you’re interested in taking one!

Meenu took her first flight as early as the 4th day of training! It was more and more of ground training for the next two weeks and then she was ready as an independent pilot. “Anyone can learn to fly if done the right way. A calm and composed approach is very important,” she shares. And Aditi feels that a positive attitude, patience, will power, love for the sport, and knowledge are core values for anyone who wants to fly.

Read the highlights of our conversation if you are a paragliding enthusiast and even otherwise, it would motivate you for sure.

Conversation with Women Paragliders- Rapid Fire time with Aditi and Meenu:

Most challenging thing while learning to fly

Aditi: The first independent fly without the help of the instructor was the most challenging aspect of my lesson.

Meenu: Carrying the paraglider bag after landing is a very hefty task.

Describe the best view you had while flying.

Aditi: The view of Rajgundha Valley after the rainy season was mesmerizing.

Meenu: The view of Griffin vultures coordinating climbs in a thermal, cruising the clouds on the edge, birds-eye of the landscape below with the wind on your face, and many more.

Meenu Yadav -women paragliders in Bir
Meenu Yadav

What helped you overcome fear when flying?

Aditi: I have full faith in God and my childhood love for paragliding makes it an adventure.

Meenu: Not sure, I have a belief but a good learning experience can help make one comfortable and confident about the environment around. 

Please share your future aspirations with us?

Aditi: I want to participate in the competitions and represent India in the games.

Meenu: Now I just want to enjoy flying!

Aditi in her element while paragliding.

Any advice for anyone who wants to learn flying?

Aditi: Your focus should be on safety, which is of prime importance. You should be very calm and have the power of rational decision making.

Meenu: It is crucial to learn from an experienced instructor. Follow the instructions with a clear mind. It is very important to keep the basics strong as they go a long way in keeping you safe.

Are you a woman paraglider looking to fly? We, at ParaBooking, are a trusted online booking platform and promise a high quality and safe flying experience. Reach out to us if you’re looking for an experienced pilot to learn from! Also, stay tuned to read more about might women paragliders in the upcoming series by ParaBooking.