Puncak Ese... 8th FAI pre- World Paragliding Accuracy Championship, Indonesia... Agust 2014... Then the winds start fighting to see which of them deserves a kiss from the young tea leaves that grow on the slopes of Punciak hills.
83 pilots on the top of the hill are observing this competition, betting and praying to win the one, blowing straight up to the mountain, and be able to continue FAI pre World Paragliding Accuracy championship.
Before the pilots came here, the winds fighting in tea plantations had no priorities… That was long ago, before the people of Indonesia discovered “parapente”. More than 25 years passed, remembers David Agustinus Teak (the Meet Director of the competition) and Gendon Subandono (the Chief Organizer) since a science expedition, when the members from France sent them an old “parapente” canopy and a few magazines about paragliding as an expression of thanks. A long time ago, they stood here observing the weather conditions and wishing for a first safe flight. Now their bodies are like antennas catching the waves from the moving tea trees, flags, birds wings, smoke and shadows of the floating clouds.
Today their responsibility is the safety of all 83 pilots; the competition participants. PG Pilots from all over the Indonesia and guests from the whole world came here to establish who was the best on the National and World stage. These pilots are part of a big organization established by David and Gendon about 20 years ago. Now this organization unites about 1000 pilots from over 34 provinces of Indonesia. Every province has a paragliding accuracy team and they send the top pilots to Punciak.
In older times, the hills of Bogor-Punciak close to Jakarta were just a nice tea hill for a weekend romantic escape. In the last few years, tandem canopies have joined the colored paragliding and Hang gliding wings, giving local people and tourists the opportunity to fly with instructors, experience those fair winds and look down like a bird on the neighborhood. The sport of Paragliding has changed the life of the region. Local people incomes came from their jobs on tea plantation, now they have new alternative opportunities. New roads, pathways and stairs to the top of the hills were built. Soon afterwards, small cafés and shops appeared around the paragliding site. Then the locals provided transport to the top of the hills. The local youngster became helpers, so called „paraboys“. They give assistance to the PG pilots, including packing the gliders after flight and carrying them back up the hill.
The right winds are winning mostly all the time. The conditions in Punciak are perfect for paragliding accuracy. Nanang just landed and has got his best score: 001 point – landing just one centimeter from a two centimeter disc. He is one of the top Indonesian pilots. His score is close to the top podium on this competition. Hopefully, the spirit of the homeland is supporting him and the winds will be favorable. He smiles for a „paraboy“, and gives the young lad his glider for packing. Eight years ago this was his job. Packing, looking for a new pilot who has just landed, then packing and looking for another client. Three years passed for Nanang working as a “paraboy” and then one day an opportunity appeared to try paragliding himself. On this first flight he fell love with being in the air.
“Following this first flight he progressed very quickly. He was a natural pilot. He was the one that the Indonesia Paragliding organization was looking to give support. He has a real passion and it shows” – as Gendon continues the Nanang story. Gendon is the prime instructor and the one who provides Nanang with all the equipment and training he needs at no cost.
Using every opportunity to be in the air, from being a “paraboy”, Nanang became one of the best Indonesia pilots. The sport changed his life. After leaving school with good sport results and scholarship support, he had the opportunity to continue with tourism studies in Lyceum. With the welcome help of recommendations from the Paragliding organization he became a full time PG instructor. His way is one of example here in Punciak that shows how much paragliding activity affects regional life. The dreams of David and Gendon have become a reality. The World Paragliding Accuracy Championship in Punciak continues the story from the beloved tea plantation winds, to colored wings and the love of flying.
The FAI pre‑World Paragliding Accuracy championship is over. 6 rounds were completed during 5 days of competition. All of the women and men awards were taken by Indonesian pilots. Nanang appeared at 4th position in the overall results. He wants to compete in the National Team next year. Thus he may become a World Champion, the best pilot among more than 20 national teams that are active in Paragliding Accuracy and who are planning to take a part in the FAI 2015 World Paragliding Accuracy Championship in Punciak- Bagor, Indonesia.
Article written by Violeta Violeta Masteikiene and edited by Andy Cowley
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