|Select magazine number|
The Great Fun of Flying
Paragliding is a wonderful recreational and rather tough competitive flying sport. A paraglider is a free-flying aircraft, which is in fact a modified parachute. No engine, no noise — just soaring and gliding and the thrill of the flight, and wonderful vistas opening up.
Photos: Gleb SUKHOTSKIY, Maryna GNIDAN, Fedir SOLOVEY.
Paragliding provides probably the easiest access to flying and bird’s eyes views. You do not have to learn to pilot a plane or jump with a parachute — practically anyone in good health and over a certain age can learn how to do the paragliding in a short time, and the training is of the simplest kind. You can carry the paraglider and all the rest of the equipment that is needed in your backpack — it weighs about 40 pounds at most. And it is all you need to enjoy flying, “free as a bird.”
In the late 1980s the paragliding equipment was considerably improved, and in 1989 the first World Championship was held in Austria. Since then the popularity of paragliding has continued to grow.
Among the ten best paragliders of Ukraine, we find Kostyantyn GONCHARENKO, a great enthusiast of paragliding, who found time to answer several questions put to him by WU senior editor Maryna GUDZEVATA about paragliding in general and paragliding in Ukraine, in particular.
Mr Goncharenko, how does the state of things in Ukrainian paragliding compares to the world standards?
There is nothing much yet to compare, but there’s been some definite progress — the number of people involved in paragliding is growing, the paragliding equipment is of an increasingly better quality, and the number of Ukrainians who take part in international competitions is growing too. There are eight people in Ukraine now who use the open class paragliders — the fastest kind that does need specialized training to master, and as recently as two years ago there were none. Because of many risks involved, only those who are absolutely sure of themselves and are excellently trained go into the open class category.
The competitions which are held in Ukraine and elsewhere, in which Ukrainian paragliders take part, are very useful for gaining experience and raising the standards of Ukrainian paragliding. In the world ratings of paragliding Ukraine has recently gone up to the 31st place — not too bad for a country in which paragliding is a relatively new sport.
In 2009 and 2010, Ukrainian Open Championship which received a status of PrePWC (Preliminary Paragliding World Cup) was held in Macedonia. This country was chosen because of the weather conditions — they are more favorable in Macedonia than in Ukraine where the weather often disrupts paragliding. At these competitions many high class foreign paragliders also took part. It provided a valuable experience for Ukrainian paragliders and raised the status of the championship while the ratings of Ukrainian paragliders significantly went up.
But are there any important competitions that are held in Ukraine?
Yes, there are. In fact there are several that are regularly held, championships of Ukraine among them. Also popular are competitions which are held in various parts of Ukraine — Cup of the Dnister River, Cup of the Donbas Region, Cup of the Carpathians and Cup of Koktebel in the Crimea. All of these competitions are open to any participants from anywhere in the world.
I think the most challenging competition held in Ukraine is the Cup of the Carpathians. It takes place annually in July — the best time for paragliding in the Carpathians. It is but natural that the most excitement is provided by paragliding in the mountains. The Carpathians provide ideal conditions in this respect — you start your flight high up in the mountains, catch the wind and glide over the slopes and valleys below. Last year the weather made it possible to do the paragliding during seven days — the full term scheduled for the competition.
In the Crimea, the center of paragliding is at Mount Klementyeva — the place is named after Petr Klementyev who died there in 1928 testing a glider. In the 1930s, Oleh Antonov, the leading airplane designer of Ukraine, began testing his gliders at Mount Klementyeva too. In more recent times, the place was a testing and training ground of hang-gliding and still more recently of paragliding.
The winds are reliable and steady there most of the year and you can take wonderful flights. It is not only the excitement of the flight that is so alluring — it is the sights that open up when you are gliding! The sea and the mountains provide gorgeous scenery!
At Khodosivka you can rent a glider and fly with an instructor from the height of about four hundred meters to which you will be launched with the help of the equipment available there. The air currents will allow you to stay in the air for about half an hour. You can go through a training course there too.
But I think the best paragliding fun in Ukraine is provided by the paragliding centers in the Crimea and the Carpathians. The great scenery is a very important factor. Besides, you can meet paragliding enthusiasts of considerable experience there. During the competitions, some of the participants who have tandem paragliders offer to take anybody who wants for a ride — some instruction is provided and then you fly as a passenger and enjoy it without having to do anything except getting fun.
When did you begin to get actively involved in paragliding?
My first flights began when I was a secondary school student but they were hang-gliders I used, not paragliders. Then there was a gap of more than ten years — I was a student with a wife and a little child and I simply did not have money for paragliding. When I began to earn enough I was happy to join the paragliding community.
I enjoy the excitement of the competitions as much as I enjoy gliding itself. I have an ambition to purchase an open-class paragliding wing and take part in the World Cup.
Flying over Cape Fiolent, not far from Sevastopol
A view of the mountain ridge Karadag from a quiet bay
Flying over the Borzhava ridge in the Ukrainian Carpathians.
At the Carpathians Cup competitions.
Bor-Kaya, also known as Mount White, Chalk Cliff
Paragliding is an exciting way of enjoying
Kostyantyn Goncharenko is ready to compete in the Indian Himalayas.