Have you wondered where the passion for flight comes from? What is it that drives us to stuff our head in the clouds and dream of soaring down the footless ravines of air, wheeling among the billowing cathedrals of vaporous cotton wool as they blossom into free form shapes above – every one unique, every one destined to vanish from the azure expanse at the close of the day, as they have done since the beginning of time.
A bit of a clumsy attempt to scale the lyrical heights, but that’s how our imagination and its excesses leave us sometimes. I remember wanting to be up there so badly that it produced a physical pain in my chest akin to lost love. It wasn’t until I started to make my way that the ache began to live in the background; cold turkey would simply never have worked and still those emotions exist to tweak and taunt after even relatively short absences from the sky.
I would be surprised if anyone could make their way to a living in the air without assistance from friends or acquaintances; who among us hasn’t had a helping hand when it was most needed. Without such we will have been at best delayed in our journey – at worst, lost to ground based purgatory.
Why do they step in; to repay a debt, remember a friend or simply help a worthy struggler? What drove them to take an interest, lend a book, offer carefully chosen words of encouragement or maybe an activating phone call on another’s behalf? Who knows but those who give?
Giving does seem to be tied inextricably to remembering, there are those I will never forget – Neil East, Sir Phillip Sassoon, Mac McCarthy, Stan Easton, those and others since who either helped me or pointed to the way ahead. Those that extend a hand of help and assistance give more than the sum of their gift, there is a dividend that grows in the heart of the receiver.
Presumably you’re wondering where we’re going with this?
Let me introduce a friend (name withheld for security and privacy) – a Gurkha soldier from Nepal. Picture a youngster watching a Mountain Hawk wheeling above, soaring the updrafts around the rocky crags in air that has a crisp tang – an Arctic nip to it. A hopeless aviation nut in the making out of a small boy with a crick in his neck. Don’t you still watch birds; isn’t it always the big ones soaring that hold your attention? Is it any surprise that our feathered expert should inspire with his exquisite demonstration of excellence?
Our friend decided many years ago that flying with those birds was something he just had to do – it took him some time to get here but having sat in the background reading for a while surfaced on the Paramotor Club Forum to send his dream out to the world.
Looking across the posts and reading the training blogs of others inspired him. After scouring the Internet he had established that though possible, making it off the deck into the clear air above is a hard thing to achieve, particularly when your financial resources are minimal when weighed against western equipment prices.
Realizing that his cloth needed to be cut to suit his purse he had initially considered paragliding, but after a disinterested rebuff from westerners at a local club he thought again and realized that paragliding would not enable him to do the one thing he really wanted to do – tour his homeland and the foothills of the Himalayas and help others do the same. So stuff ‘em!
I responded to ‘Soldier K’ passing what help and advice I could across a computer screen, over the last year we (Dave, Simon) have seeded his interest further with books and a little equipment – our task now is to assist him with his training. I say assist because he is throwing all his ducks into this pond in his bid for the clouds. I took the further decision to part sponsor his flying training in India in June. So, we have cobbled together the cash to enable him to start paramotor training at Pune thereby setting his foot on the first step.
On completion getting his equipment together and gaining the required experience to become an instructor will present his next major challenge. A tall order when you look at the costs involved buying reliable, high quality equipment and setting up a little infrastructure. Looking at the costs looming and the resources available the challenge looks fairly major but looking at our man and drawing a few conclusions after our conversations, I doubt they will stop him.
‘K’ is married with a young daughter and is currently serving as a Gurkha Soldier (Indian Army). He has fought two counter insurgency wars and been decorated for bravery several times. His father, grandfather and other relations share a long tradition of service to the British Army Gurkha Regiments across conflicts since 1815.
Recent developments within our UK Parliamentary system system have only partially righted a wrong that has corroded our National honour for far too long. A weak and vacuous Labour administration looked for the cheap way out of a debt written in blood across nearly two centuries of dedicated service to the British people. Over 50,000 Gurkhas have died during that service. Anyone who has served with them will describe the deep affection that exists between these soldiers, their British seconded officers and the British people, they have the love and admiration of a nation and well it is deserved.
Though his task is considerable ‘K’ is what he is; a tough young man with the will to make a reality of his dreams. The Mountain Hawk Aero Sports Club is that dream and it has begun its journey from dream to reality. By invitation we share his dream, perhaps you would like to as well? When I have figured out a way to offer assistance beyond the seeds we have cast his way I will let you know, maybe there are others who would like to give him a leg up onto that lofty perch so that he can see what the Mountain Hawk sees.
I have asked ‘K’ to pass a written and photo commentary on his progress which i will present here periodically for your enjoyment. If you paramotor you NEED to see Nepal from the air; in around eighteen months we might just know a man who can show it to you.