Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Rio de Janeiro... Flying With The Wind... Parapente (Paragliding)

On a clear day in Rio de Janeiro one can look across the bay... and in the distance... one can see on the other side... the city of Niteroi. In Niteroi... there is a hill where people jump off the edge... and parapente (paraglide). I had to go check it out.
A fellow traveler and friend named Philip joined me.
There are various ways to travel across the bay to Niteroi. One can take a bus, a car, a slow ferry or a fast ferry. We chose the fast ferry.
We landed on the beach of Niteroi. From the beach we hired a cab to take us up a mountain to the Parque da Cidade (City Park).
Not such a bad view from the City Park.
From the park, we could look to the right and see the city of Niteroi.
And, we could look to the left and see a fishing village.
And at a certain place within the park, there was a scenic overlook point... and a ramp to paraglide.
We met a man named Luciano, who was a former military airplane pilot, but now is a paragliding pilot. He provides instruction courses and tandem flights. In this photo Luciano was demonstrating that the wind was not very strong and blowing from the wrong direction for a good flight.  
I was happy to know that he seemed to know what he was talking about.
There are people that hangglide (fixed wing) and people that paraglide (parachute wing) from this point. But when the wind and weather are not ideal... people go to another mountainside point to launch.
We went to this other location and when we arrived there was one pilot that was ready to go.
He launched off the point... he glided for a while... then he landed safely on a nearby beach. It was not a long flight... maybe about one minute... the wind was still not strong.
And then another pilot got ready to test the wind and his luck.
His flight did not end up so well. He launched off the cliff... did not catch a good air current... could not direct himself toward the beach... and splashed down in the water. He struggled for a while with the weight of his clothes and parachute impeding his ability to swim. It was a serious situation for a while. Two people jumped in the water to rescue him. Luckily there was a lifeguard at the nearby beach and he completed the rescue. 
The three people dragged the downed pilot and the parachute to a nearby beach. The beach was probably only 300 yard (300 meters) away from where the pilot went down, but it took the trio about 30 minutes to swim to the shore because of the strong current and rough waves.
Everyone was a little wet and tired... but safe.
After everyone was already safe on the beach, the bomberos (fire department) arrived.
Luciano and the downed pilot eventually returned to the launch point with the parachute in tow.
The bomberos were hanging around for a while talking.
So this nut thought that it would be a good time to try to fly. Let's get it on!
Luciano gave me some instruction. One usually starts with the parachute behind and uphill of the pilot. The lines are actually twisted 180 degrees from the harness.
Then one pulls the lines to inflate the parachute. At this point the lines are still twisted.
Then one needs to twist the lines to get the parachute to flip around.
When the parachute is inflated by the wind and directly overhead it is a beautiful sight.
When the parachute gets twisted or collapses it is ugly.
There is a fine line between flight and folly.
Okay, let's try this again.
Parachute inflated... lines untwisted...
Approach the edge of the cliff.
All systems go!
You'll have to watch the shaky video to see what happened next.

1 comment:

  1. WOW! You are crazy.....unless you had done it before? I want to try !


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