34-year-old Navy pilot dies in paragliding accident in Bir Billing : The Tribune India

34-year-old Navy pilot dies in paragliding accident in Bir Billing

34-year-old Navy pilot dies in paragliding accident in Bir Billing

The accident site at Bir Billing in Kangra district. Tribune Photo

Ravinder Sood

Palampur, November 9

Bibin Dev (34), a Navy officer hailing from Kerala, was killed when his paraglider crashed near Billing last evening. After taking off from Billing he lost control and within a few minutes his glider came down. With the help of locals, Dev was shifted to Army hospital at Palampur where he succumbed to his injuries. Dev was a serving pilot in the Indian Navy.

This is third para gliding mishap in the last two months. Earlier, an Army jawan and a tourist were killed while doing para gliding in Billing. Six pilots, including two foreigners, were injured recently when they were trapped in Bara Bhangal.

Billing in Kangra district is among the top paragliding sites in the world. The place has been regularly hosting the prestigious Paragliding World Cup. But as rules to govern the sport are normally overlooked, it has started courting controversies. In the absence of proper check from the state tourism department, the number mishaps has gone up in the past few years.

Only last month, an Army jawan from Mizoram was killed when his para glider crash-landed near Billing. He was flying solo when the tragedy occurred. He had no knowledge of the topography of Dhauladhar ranges which led to the mishap. In another mishap, a Ghaziabad tourist and his helper were killed while taking off from Billing. In another mishap, a resident of Nagrota Bagwan was killed when the co-pilot failed to tighten safety belts. In February 2020, a 24-year-old para glider Akshya and co-pilot Shyam Lal were killed. Both had taken off from Billing and were untrained.

In 2018, a Singaporean pilot Kok Chang had died after his glider crash-landed in high mountains of Dhauladhar hills after he took off from Billing. His body was spotted by rescue teams after many days. Earlier, two Russian pilots were killed in similar mishaps

Two years back, Max Kent McGowan, a US pilot, remained stranded in snow-covered mountains for nearly 60 hours after taking off from Billing when his glider moved in wrong direction bordering Chamba district. Though he was able to land at Bir after two hours heavy rain, snowfall and high velocity wind forced his landing in high mountains. He had neither insurance cover nor permission from the administration to fly.

Though the state tourism department has laid down guidelines for para gliding, these are hardly followed.

As per the rules laid down in 2004, it is mandatory for a pilot to have a licence which is issued by the Aero Sport Society of India, he should carry internationally homologated design parachute with helmet, have two-way radio communication system with instrument panel, altimeter, barometer and compass with speed indicator and two first aid kits equipped with medicines and bandages. Besides, there should be ground support with a retrieval vehicle, insurance cover for two persons in tandem flights and insurance support for arranging helicopter in the case of emergency.

HC seeks govt reply on Bir Billing mishaps

  • Taking a strong note of the issue of regular mishaps at the paragliding site at Bir Billing, the HP High Court has sought response from the state govt and the Shimla administration
  • The Bench comprising Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Virender Singh took cognizance of the news report in The Tribune on November 9 under the headline, “Navy officer killed in paragliding mishap in Himachal’s Billing.”

#Indian Navy #Kerala #Palampur

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