If you’re close to Jakkur on a good weather day, take a look at the blue skies. We’re sure you’ll find a one or two-seater fixed winged aircraft buzz by, in a dashing red, yellow or white. These microlight planes — something that the city folk are quickly taking to, owing to several local adventure curators offering lessons as an experience are for “flights” of fancy many indulge in. Take a seat, because this activity is no more just a thing of dreams.
While brainstorming for a dream proposal, 27-year-old Shriya Bharadwaj stumbled upon it on a local discovery app called Little. “I cringe at the thought of anything cheesy and this activity was at its adventurous best,” says the adrenaline junkie.
Costing Rs 3,500 for a 15-minute ride and Rs 6,000 for a 30-minute ride, the microflight planes take off from the Jakkur Airfield that sprawl across 214 acres and provides breathtaking views of the city – even the Yelahanka Kere (lake) and Puttenhalli Lake, something that also doubles up as a bird sanctuary. These rides are pretty popular in Coorg and Mysuru too.
“One time, this guy had drawn a huge heart with coloured paper on the ground and once we were up in the air, he pointed to it and popped the question to his girl,” recollects Capt. Vinitha Mariappa, who has seen her fair share of proposals in the air. “While that’s just one of the many experiences, it doesn’t stop at that. Some of them probably couldn’t get into the airforce or may have always wanted to fly – for such people it’s not just a one time thing. They become hobbyists and eventually get their own licenses and planes,” explains the hobby pilot and the founding member of Bangalore Aerosports.
With city-based websites and apps like Thrillophilia, Urban Binge, Frogo and Townista urging you to try out something new, the only question on Bengalureans’ minds is, ‘Why not?’ “People who’ve tried out these activities abroad are marketing them on social media and those who can’t afford to go on these vacations want to try out these activities within the city. While we see a lot of corporates taking to microflight lessons as a team building activity, a number of youngsters too are booking slots as it’s a welcome change from mundane movies and pubs,” says Guru Ganesh Bhat, founder of Urban Binge.
If you happen to feel like Icarus and fall in love with flying, you can pursue it as a hobby too. “The classes range from six to 12 months and cost anywhere from Rs 3.5 to Rs 5 lakh. While thousands of city folk have taken to the activity over the past 17 years that we’ve been teaching, 25-30 people have obtained licenses. Fly for the experience by learning how to rather than for a fun trip,” says Vinitha. Radio One’s MJ Prithvi is one of them. “When my wife and I visited South Africa, we flew over the Victoria Falls in a powered handglider. I got hooked on to it immediately and started my research on how to get my hands on one as soon as I got to my room. In six months, I had my own powered PPG paraglider,” he says, adding that it’ll be great for others to take to this excessively thrilling activity because the flying community in Bengaluru is small. So get, set and kiss the clouds!...