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Union Minister of Civil Aviation, Mr. P Gajapati Raju flags off AAI Paragliding World Cup

rrrBir Billing, October 24: *The AAI Paragliding World Cup got underway with
the Union Minister of Civil Aviation, Mr. P Gajapati Raju, flagging off the
pilots from the Billing launch site for the official practice here on
Saturday. Despite slightly overcast conditions, the pilots took to the
skies amidst cheers of encouragement from the crowd that thronged Billing
since early morning.

With most of the 130 pilots representing more than 35 countries taking part
in the AAI Paragliding World Cup arriving at Bir, the mecca of aero-sport
in the country wore a festive look.

Before flagging off, the minister had words of praise for the organisers
and the participants. “The picturesque setting of Bir Billing provides a
perfect backdrop for the biggest aero sport event in the country. It’s
heartening to see such enthusiastic participation and I am sure both the
organisers and participants will do their best to preserve the beauty of
the place. I also congratulate the state government for their wholehearted
support for the AAI Paragliding World Cup,” said P Gajapati Raju.

The AAI Paragliding World Cup is easily the biggest sporting event in terms
of international participation and the number of sportspersons. With Aero
Sports being extremely popular in these parts, Bir Billing is buzzing with
excitement in anticipation on seeing the best pilots from around the world
and India in action.

At the organisational level, the organisers of the event, Billing
Paragliding Association, and title sponsor, Airports Authority of India,
have left no stone unturned to deliver a classy event.

“We are thrilled to see months of preparations and hard work has enabled us
to put together a world-class event. Seeing the turnout of people today for
the official practice, we can confidently say that the AAI Paragliding
World Cup will take the sport to the next level,” said Mr. Sudhir Sharma,
President Billing Paragliding Association and also Minister for Town
Planning and Tourism, Himachal Pradesh

The Airports Authority of India has provided unstinted in bringing this
premier paragliding event to the country. “We are extremely pleased to be
associated with the Paragliding World Cup. For the Airports Authority of
India, this event provides a percent fit. With increasingly more number of
youngsters taking to adventure sport, we see a great opportunity to take
paragliding to the next level,” said R.K Srivastava, Chairman Airports
Authority of India.

For the first time GAGAN  (GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation is an India
SBAS (Satellite Based Augmentation System) Programme jointly developed by
India Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the Airports Authority of
India will be used for live tracking of the pilots.  AAI is providing the
pilots with GAGAN signals for accurate navigation and tracking facility.
For the first time GAGAN enabled Accord receivers have been put to use in
the Indian airspace.

Mr. Rajesh Srivastava, Sr. Vice President of BPA, has been the driving
force in organising this aero sports extravaganza. “A lot of work has gone
into this event and it will continue till the very end. Seeing the response
of the people and participants gives us immense pleasure. A lot of hard
work has gone into making this event a grand success.”

He added, “Our safety systems and other technical aspects are all in place
for the week-long event. I am confident that this event will give a massive
boost to the sport in the country.”

The field at the AAI Paragliding World Cup is one of the strongest on the
Tour. With three of the world’s top four, including one of the all-time
greats, Julien Wirtz of France, who has been No. 1 in the world for 20 of
the last 25 months. He is currently ranked No. 3 in the world, one behind
Vidic Jurij of Slovenia, who unseated Wirtz from No. 1 in spot in July
before losing it himself.

 Vidic Jurij (Slovenia), Julien Wirtz (France) and Torsten Siegel (Germany)
hold the spots from second to fourth in the world and also in Europe.
Another big name in the field is Frenchman Maxime Pinot, winner of the 2014
Super Cup in Turkey, who is now No. 8 in the latest world rankings.

The Indian challenge will be led by Ajay Kumar, who is the country’s one of
the most experienced pilots. The Indian contingent comprising Ajay Kumar,
Gurpreet Dhindsa, Jyoti Thakur, Arvind Pal, Prakash Chand, Gautam Nath and
Sanjay Kumar is expected to perform well given that they enjoy the
advantage of knowing the local conditions and have practiced in the region.
The Indian team will enjoy a strong local support because five pilots
belong to Himachal Pradesh.

A glittering cultural programme and lighting of the ceremonial lamp by the
Union Minister of Civil Aviation, Mr. P Gajapati Raju along with other
dignitaries at the world-famous Sherabling Monastery last night marked the
official opening of the event.

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