It was Captain Praphulla Raj Singh’s childhood dream of making a career in the sky. Having graduated from the National Defence Academy, Singh served the Indian Air Force (IAF) for 15 years, although he later quit his job to take up commercial flying.
After working as a pilot in various private airlines for over 20 years, his constant penchant for adventure activities in aviation attracted him towards paramotoring.
“Being a pilot is the most gratifying profession,” says Singh with a smile, adding, “But I always wanted to do something different and be adventurous in aviation. There are so many branches where you can fly and be a little different. I was fascinated with paramotoring.”
Unlike paragliding, paramotoring doesn’t require one to walk to the top of the hill and come flying down. The engine and propeller give the required thrust to take off from the ground, and it is this facet that attracted him towards the sport.
Four years ago, Singh went to Goa to pursue his passion, and on his return to Hyderabad, he started to practise near the backwaters of Himayath Sagar. “It was then that I realised that I can participate in competitions too,” he chuckles.
Soon, the 55-year-old participated in the Asian Championship in Thailand (2017) and won a silver medal in paramotoring. “The win encouraged me to participate in the World Championship in Thailand in 2018,” he shares.
Apparently, the Indian team created a record by winning a bronze medal in paramotoring (Economy & Navigation category) for the first time in a World Championship, which is tipped as the ‘Olympics of Paramotoring.’ He was also featured on the cover of his company’s (IndiGo) in-flight magazine.
“Getting the opportunity and experience to compete at the highest level is inexplicable,” recalls the Hyderabad-born and raised Singh, who ascribes his success to his fitness levels and being athletic.
Given that the Telangana government wants to encourage adventure sports, they approached Singh. “Tourism Secretary B. Venkatesham approached me to collaborate on starting paramotoring in Telangana on the State’s Formation Day in 2018,” he recalls, adding, “We started at the Parade Grounds, and I called 15 paramotorists from all over India. Buoyed by the response, we did it again as a part of the Bathukamma celebrations where I roped in 15 paramotorists from Thailand.”
Singh can ably demonstrate two categories in paramotoring – Trike (which also accommodates a facilitator) and Foot Launch (solo riding).
“We can go up to three thousand meters height. Winter – October to March is a good season for paramotoring because the cold weather is stable and without any turbulences in the atmosphere,” he explains.
And for those with a fear of heights, he advises, “The fear of heights is a fear of the unknown. So unless you try it, you won’t know how you feel after going up. It is better to try once.”
However, Singh states that there’s no proper regulatory support for paramotoring. “The equipment is very expensive – a parachute costs Rs 3 lakh, an engine costs Rs 5 lakh and Trike is Rs 2 lakh,” he expresses, adding that it is heartening to see the Telangana Government’s interest in the emerging sport.
Apart from paramotoring, Singh also loves horse riding, and even owns one. “His name is Prithvi and he is 10-years-old. I have kept him at the Hyderabad Polo and Riding Club,” he says fondly. While his wife is a homemaker and plays a vital role in his success, his two daughters seem to be following their dad’s footsteps. “They also indulge in horse riding, and may take up pilot jobs,” he quips....