Paragliding is one of Bir’s biggest draws for outdoors enthusiasts and thrill seekers. Bir is regarded by international paragliding groups as the second best site in the world for paragliding (after Lake Como in Italy).
The launch point is at approximately 2400 metres (7874 feet) in the meadow on the top of a ridge at Billing (14 km north of Bir), and the landing area is in the fields at the western edge of the Tibetan Colony in Chowgan.
While experienced pilots may bring their own gliders and fly solo, beginners can take tandem flights, in which a skilled instructor takes you up in a two-seated glider. This allows the beginner to have the experience with minimal risk thanks to the presence of an experienced pilot.
Please note that paragliding is a dangerous sport with significant inherent risks. Please take the following safety precautions:
- Fly only in good weather (when thermals are strong and there is no sign of rain) and keep a close eye on the clouds while flying. Mountain weather can change quickly.
- Do not fly when tired, sick, or under the influence of any kind of intoxicants. One must be completely alert and responsive.
- When approaching the ground upon landing, watch out for power lines, which can be difficult to see from a distance but can come up very quickly.
- If you take a tandem flight, check to make sure that the pilot is carrying a reserve parachute. It is also advisable to ask him to show you the age sticker of his glider. If it is more than seven or eight years old, consider going with another pilot, as there is no official maintenance programme or mandatory safety check on the equipment.
Paragliding in the Bir area is the subject of Jim Mallinson’s entertaining feature-length documentary film, ‘Temples in the Clouds’ (AIM Television, 2008), available on DVD.