Him-a-fallin’: paraglider meets vulture mid-air

A Russian paraglider’s first Himalayan flight could well have been his last after he collided with a griffon vulture mid-air and his canopy became tangled. Luckily, he managed to open the emergency parachute and land safely. But what about the bird?

­Paravoffka – the nickname of the survivor in the paragliding community – gained control of the deadly situation, which saved not only his life, but that of the bird as well.

The fact that the sportsman landed without any trauma was a real miracle, as landing with an emergency parachute is highly dangerous – one can get hit against rocks or fall on to a tree.

Seconds after the successful landing, the pilot called his friends on the walkie-talkie and then made an attempt to free the bird, no-less-frightened than himself. That was not an easy task to do: the claws were tightly tangled in the canopy. But finally the bird was freed and flew away.

The dangerous flight was caught on video, with the number of views skyrocketing hour after hour.

The Himalayas are one of the most beloved sites among paragliders, seen as ideal for high and scenic flights. In mid and late autumn, hundreds flock there from all over the world.

Griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus) are in fact common companions during paraglider exercises in the air: they help people see the currents of air in which the paraglider is ascending, Paravoffka explains in his comment to the video. But this time one of the three griffons seemed distracted and, as the pilot says, was not looking where it was flying, which resulted in the accident.

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