Sky-high adventure in Mysore

Last Updated 24 March 2014, 15:19 IST

Mysore has emerged as the only perfect skydiving destination in the country. Ideal weather, clear visibility, a huge airspace and a full-fledged airport has made this possible says,  Sunaad Raghuram

(Anchor)spec25sky1spec25sky2spec25sky3High adventure in Mysore skiesFLYING HIGH Mysore has emerged as the only perfect sky diving destination in the country. Ideal weather conditions, perfect visibility, clear airspace, a full-fledged airport with very few commercial flights has made this possible, explains Sunaad RaghuramMandakalli airport. 10 kms south-east of Mysore. A four-seater Cessna 172 waits on the tarmac on a balmy early March morning. The young and affable Capt Harshit Gupta (25) is at the controls.

He goes about his routine pre-flight checks on the small aircraft with well-rehearsed efficiency, clambering up on a footstep on the side of the tiny aircraft to check the fuel levels inside the two tanks mounted on either side of the wings with a wooden dipstick in hand.As Capt Gupta turns on the ignition, he radioes air traffic control, seeking permission to take off. The mandatory interaction over; he eases the aircraft into taxiing mode. On board are two other men. Ales Palicka and Shibu Alexis. Ales Palicka (31) is a Czech hailing from the town of Karviena and has a has a diploma in commercial sky diving from Christchurch, New Zealand, which requires an intense training of 32 weeks. Shibu Alexis(26) is a techie and a sky diving enthusiast from Chennai.

As the Cessna slowly lurches forward in a northerly direction with the greyish hued Chamundi Hill in the distance, looming large with a forbidding omniscience; and makes the mandatory turn to the left seeking the asphalted runway of the Mysore airport, it is about to be part of an aviation rarity in India - a sky diving expedition!

It is a 45 minute expedition in the skies above Mysore, underlining the city’s least known status as the one and only sky diving destination or drop zone in technical skydiving parlance, in the entire country; recognised by an international accreditation agency, United States Parachute Association (USPA), which recognises authentic drop zones around the world.

How did Mysore of all the places, known more for its sandalwood, silks and royalty come to be recognised as the only perfect sky diving destination in the country? Ales explains why. Ideal weather conditions, perfect visibility, clear airspace, a full-fledged airport with a terminal building and a functioning air traffic control tower, a fire station and most of all, very sparse air traffic in the skies above the city.

With just one single commercial flight operating out of the Mysore airport throughout the day, the rest of the day cannot be anything but perfect for sky diving! The itinerary for the day is so precisely charted that when the larger commercial aircraft is within fifteen nautical miles of the airport, all skydiving activity is halted with the entire paraphernalia on the ground.

With Mysore being one of the most popular tourist destinations nation-wide with innumerable places of interest around, Ales has every reason to believe that the city has the potential to become one of the top destinations for sky diving in the world! Well, he should know, because he has done over 2600 jumps across the globe.

Big cities anywhere in the world and so also in India simply cannot offer any semblance of an ideal condition for this sport because the air traffic above them is so high that planes keep landing and taking off like a flock of birds. And the danger of men gliding about in the sky strapped to parachutes amidst all this frenetic aviation activity is simply too serious to contemplate.

The tiny Cessna takes close to half an hour to reach the necessary altitude of 10,000 feet, climbing up in huge circles. Soon it is a speck in the cloud laden sky above Mysore. Only the drone of the engine can be heard as a distant reminder of the aircraft’s presence somewhere high above.

An altitude of 10,000 feet is the preferred one for sky diving anywhere in the world as anything above that height would be like sitting in the plane for an unnecessarily long period and also the plane itself would be burning more fuel as the air gets thinner above that height. The thrill, the delight, the enchantment and ecstasy of jumping off a plane from that height into the unfathomable nothingness of the sky with the horizon in the far distance amidst the fluffy white clouds that look like balls of cotton is an experience that can make a poet out of a soldier and a soldier out of a poet in a sense.

(Published 24 March 2014, 15:19 IST)

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