Alert glider averts mishap

DARJEELING
7 Dec 2016

It was an alert mind and quick reflexes that saved a young glider today from a life threatening accident as he manoeuvred in desperation and managed to land in a nettle bush, leaving him with just burning sensations.

The morning sky was clear and blue with the sun shining brightly. For Norbu Lama (25), it was a routine solo flight in his glider (the smaller version). But in his nearly 250 hours of flight experience, never did he expect to meet with an accident, that too a collision with a kite, to give him the fright of his life.

Lama, who has undertaken a two-year course from the Pune based Indus Para-Gliding in Kamshet, reached Alubari near Darjeeling town, and took off for a 4km (aerial distance) glide-ride to Lebong ground.

But little did he expect to meet head-on the worst fear of his life halfway through the flight as he collided with a kite being flown by some youths in the Toongsoong area. “I took off from Alubari and had reached the Toonsoong area when my glider collided with a kite. At first I did not feel anything but after a few seconds there was tremendous turbulence and the left side of my glider started dragging. I then realized that the right side tip of the glider had been damaged heavily by the string of the kite,” Lama said.

The young glider, as those with experience of more than 150 hours of flight time, tried everything he had learned during his two-year training in Pune to control his glider at 3,000 metres above sea level but in vain. “At the camp in Pune we were taught safety measures in the event of an accident and I tried everything including shifting weights to the left as my right wing was damaged.

The sink rate started increasing to around 30 to 40 km per hour. It was a dangerous situation and I was really scared,” Lama recounted.

The situation was getting worse but it was Lama’s alertness that saved him from a fatal accident and he pulled through with just burning sensations from contact with the nettle bush. “At first I wanted to manoeuvre my glider and land on the Lebong ground. But with the sinking rate increasing rapidly, I force landed in a small piece of land near the Toongsoong area. I escaped death but my body is still burning with contact with the nettle bush,” he said.

The experience was traumatic but Lama still believes people should get into adventure sports like gliding for pure thrill and adrenaline rush albeit not without taking proper precautions and having an alert mind. “It is utmost important to pay attention to the safety details that are taught in training camps and institutes. If one takes the necessary precautions and keeps the mind alert, gliding can really be a fun experience,” said Lama, as he rushed home to take get over the burning sensation on his body. (EOIC)