The Unique Experience of Parahawking
In 2001 the owners of Sunrise Paragliding in Nepal, Rajesh Bomjan and Adam Hill, quite by chance met up with Scott Mason, a falconer from England. Realizing that birds of prey rely on thermals to assist them in gliding long distances, in much the same way as paragliders do, these three men decided to blend the modern techniques of paragliding with the ancient art of falconry – the result of this collaboration is parahawking.
The ambitious project of training birds of prey to fly with paragliders required an exchange of knowledge between the pilots and the falconer, with each one learning the other’s trade. Aviaries were constructed to house two kite chicks which had been rescued from a local farmer. Kites are birds of prey belonging to the same family (Accipitridae) as hawks, eagles, harriers and vultures. Kites are extremely agile and receptive to training. These two birds, Shadoko and Sappana, became the focus of the project for the following two years, with the ultimate goal of training them to detect thermals for paragliders.
Through patience and dedication, parahawking has been perfected by the trio and is now offered to trained paraglider pilots as an unrivalled adventure activity. Participants in a six day course learn the basics of training birds of prey, including the use of equipment. They move on to handling the birds in the correct way and receive instruction on how best to co-operate with the bird to enhance the paragliding experience. The first parahawking flight is tandem with one of the instructors. Participants are shown how the bird guides the paraglider pilot to the thermals and then retrieves an edible reward from the fist of the pilot.
The response to parahawking has been phenomenal as intrepid paraglider pilots discover the thrill of flying with, and being guided by, a trained bird of prey. The kite’s enjoyment of the parahawking experience is evident by its awe-inspiring aerobatics, which the pilot, and his passenger, gets to see from a unique perspective.
A tandem parahawking flight opens up the opportunity for everyone to enjoy this unusual experience. A basic course in gliding is followed by an introduction to the bird and instruction on bird handling. Once the novice paraglider is competent in handling the bird, he (or she) is fitted into a harness, attached to a qualified tandem pilot who launches them into the sky for an unforgettable thirty minute flight.
Thanks to parahawking, soaring through the air along with birds of prey, enjoying an unsurpassed view of the majestic snow-capped mountains of Nepal is an experience open to anyone with a true sense of adventure.