Since time immemorial humans have always been fascinated by our winged co-habitants soaring high. The urge to emulate these creatures has led many brilliant minds working out a way to achieve this goal, leading to the development of state of the art aircraft which are safe and secure to a great extent. But for some “adrenaline-junkies”, the thrill of flying is not in being tucked in comfortable seats, but to be at the forefront of action, battling the elements and manoeuvring out of what nature throws at us. Meet one such “adrenaline-high” gentleman from this campus, Mr. Scott Ross-Head of Engineering-L&T Howden, Faridabad.
When did you start with this hobby of taking to the skies and tell us more about it.
Right after leaving school at the age of 17, I made a pact with myself that I would try something new each year. So, I first started with skydiving, soccer, baseball, horseback riding, skiing, off road cycling. Then I moved on to paragliding and hang gliding, Para motoring and flying light aircraft. I started my private pilot license and skydiving when I was 18 before moving on to Hang Gliding. Of these I prefer to do paragliding the most. Now, it’s been more than 19 years since I started paragliding.
PWCA, Paragliding World Cup Association organizes 9-10 paragliding events on an annual basis with around 100-150 pilots taking part in each event. I finished 12th overall in Australia in 2014. This sport requires a lot of time and a decent amount of money to pursue over a long time, but it still remains the most affordable of all flying sports.
I want to tell you guys something pretty interesting. I am in the process of building a light sports aviation aircraft with the help of a 2-seater Zodiac kit bought from the USA. I was initially working with another friend of mine on this project, but due to some unfortunate events I am doing it all by myself now and hope to complete it by the end of 2017.
Can you please enlighten us on these different sports with some details, since many might not be aware of the difference?
Well, paragliding is flying with the help of a fabric wing, which was developed from old square sky-diving parachutes. We take off from a cliff and with the help of thermals we we climb up to as high as 500 m above sea level. Basically, in all these sports that helps us gain altitude and in fact keep us in motion. Thermals are certain pockets in air where the hot air rises up and we use it to our advantage. Also, we use what is called as orographic effects, where the wind upon hitting the side of mountain rises up and we use it to gain altitude. Hang gliding is where we hold on to an Aluminium frame and delta wing and use our body weight to steer the glider through the air, by shifting it from side to side or front to back. In Para motoring we use a motor attached to parachute for take-off.
Where all have you flown and any anecdotes of it?
I have visited more than 37 countries and have flown in many of them at hundreds of different flying sites. Yes there are many interesting anecdotes. Once I had a broken ankle. Another time I had to employ my reserve parachute, I think it was in Spain. But I have flown in some amazing locations. In Interlaken, we had to land in the middle of the city which was quite an experience. The highest I have flown is 5,200 m above sea level and climbed at a speed of 12 m/s vertically.
How do you see these sports being taken up in India?
I have flown in India in Bir-Billing, Kamshet (near Pune) and Panchgani (also near Pune). They are excellent sites for paragliding. Across the world it is a highly regulated sport with well-defined safety regulations and overseen by respective civil aviation authorities. But in India these regulations are absent. There is a club near Sohna, where there are facilities for Para motoring which are pretty good and can be great weekend getaway.
About your family…
My wife is also a flying enthusiast. So we regularly travel around the world. My son is in the UK and he is not interested in such activities at all. In fact he had his maiden flight when he was 25 or so. My daughter though is quite enthusiastic about it. She is now entering graduation.
My father was a gymnast in his prime and an instructor in the British Army. Maybe the interest in activities which prompt an adrenaline rush can be attributed to him, although I must add, he is very scared of flying.
As shared with Vignesh Prasanna (LTEN) and Ayush Jain (LT MHPS).