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latest Para-Newbie News-n-Pics, Apr07, Issue #0004, monthly e-zine.
April 25, 2007

Fresh Paragliding Stuff

Selected News, Image, Site Update

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Issued on Apr 25th 2007, Issue #0004


Table of Contents

1. News of the Month

2. Image of the Month

3. Website Content of the Month

4. T-shirts of the Month


News of the Month

Having scoured the Web using a number of world news resources, I have discovered 2 stories of interest, from 2 different continents. West Africa and Western Europe.

The first story concerns a flying event in a relatively new location for organized paragliding. The Kwahu mountains in the country of Ghana, near the town of Atibie, is the venue for this year's Paragliding Festival in the region.

In contrast, the second story touches on 2 traditional paragliding nations, France and Austria. This story concerns the Ability Challenge, an event which seeks to involve disabled people in a range of extreme sports. Including paragliding, which should be no surprise. Abilities rather than disabilities is the main theme of this annual event.

An Exotic New Paragliding Location In Africa

Source: Ghanaian Chronicle

Date: 11 Apr 2007

There is a relatively new event on the world paragliding calendar now, with the 3rd Pepsi-Ferdinand Ayim Kwahu Hang Gliding And Paragliding Festival recently taking place in Ghana, West Africa. That's a bit of a mouthful to say the least, so I'll just refer to it as the Paragliding Festival from here on. Very much involved in it is the South African paragliding legend Walter Neser. Walter has been the mover and shaker behind a number of other major flying events. He's been over here to Australia as well.

This time around, Walter was busy trying to convince other professional pilots to come and help out at the Festival. Having enough good passenger-rated pilots would have been one factor, I'm sure. Ghanaian officialdom shouldered the heavy lifting. That is, the detailed organization and marketing efforts put into the Paragliding Festival. This involved no less than the Tourism Minister, the former District Chief Executive, Raymond Safo-Gyan and the Ghana Tourist Board. Just to name a few. Also helpful was the sponsorship of Pepsi Cola Ghana!

As you might be guessing, this festival is of significant value to the region. In fact, the tourist board head, Mr. Martin Mireku, said that the event was definitely helping to expose the tourism and economic potential of the Kwahu area. A sign of this was all the foreigners attracted to the area during the festival, which happens to coincide with Easter. The organized public activities of the Easter weekend now include the Paragliding Festival as well.

The Festival has grown each year, to the point where Walter Neser is promoting the flying area to paragliding instructors and schools. The launch site and weather conditions have been proven, so Walter believes the area could and should be used more often.

I'm not sure of the exact stats for this year's Festival, but they were expecting to do around 100 passenger flights. Walter had a hand-picked crew of 17 pilots from around the world. Apparently most of the other pilots were non-professionals who chose to holiday in the area and combine that with some flying. Besides the elite 17, some of these other pilots had the skills and equipment to tandem fly passengers as well.

Some of the locals who have been so fascinated by the paragliding activity would be glad to know that Mr Mireku is all for it in the future. He made mention of plans to promote the sport and even seek out an ideal training site in or near the Kwahu mountains. Besides encouraging locals who have a desire to fly, he was obviously keen on building the foundations for paragliding-based tourism as well!

It's all looking good for the future of paragliding in this exotic part of the world. A growing band of paragliding experts are now familiar with the excellent flying conditions that Walter originally discovered. On top of that, no-one is likely to be kidnapped or shot at, since this is a politically stable corner of Africa! Word is spreading from pilot to pilot, and today this newsletter is doing it's bit as well.

I'll finish off with a few observations by Walter Neser. He found this site, near Atibie in the Kwahu mountains, to be one of the best thermal flying areas he knows. Cloudy rather than blue conditions. He says the views are incredible, across forests and mountains and extending to the Volta Lake in the east. Plus, very little turbulence and the opportunity to share the air with vultures once in a while! Ugly birds, but I bet they are very graceful in soaring flight, like pelicans.

Abilities Of The Disabled Showcased In Europe

Source: Malta Independent Online

Date: 13 Apr 2007

It was held for the first time last year, in France. This year it will happen in Austria. The Ability Challenge 2007. One participant recalls that the highlight for him, or maybe it was her, was a launch from a 2,000 meter (6,600 feet) cliff under a tandem paraglider. There were feelings of fear initially, but they were soon replaced with an adrenaline rush and great satisfaction.

On the topic of great satisfaction, that's what the organizers felt too. Seeing a select group of disabled people doing things that many an able-bodied person would shy away from. The Ability Challenge is all about assisting the disabled to achieve.

The second Challenge is being organized by the Maltese charity organization Razzett Tal-Hbiberija. How did you go, getting your tongue around that name? Not so hard for many Europeans I guess. Ok, Razzett Tal-... ermm Razzett offers a range of services 'therapeutic, educational and recreational' to more than 1000 people including children, each year. Since the services are free, the charity must also raise money in various ways during the year. Fundraising is not a priority though, so services probably go up and down a bit depending on the money available.

Now back to this year's Challenge. It's all going to happen in August, in the mountain village of Mayrhofen in Austria. The first challenge is to pronounce the name of the village. Just kidding. Included in the range of extreme activities is of course paragliding. Naturally, or you wouldn't be reading about it here. Professional guides will oversee each activity to ensure high levels of safety. All the challenges are physical in nature, so the participants who get selected will have shown that they are reasonably fit, have an adventurous spirit and have a positive attitude toward taking on challenges.

Naturally, some preparation is required for these activities. Hence, the participants have to attend training sessions at Razzett, leading up to the Challenge itself. Razzett, by the way, is situated in Marsascala, Malta. Also, the participants will be required to raise funds via sponsors and donors for the 2 main objectives of the Ability Challenge.

Firstly, some funds will be used to help build awareness of the participants' abilities, as opposed to their disabilities. Also, there is the problem of correcting the public's attitude to the disabled, in the way that they are often judged. Last year's Challenge proved that a positive group of people with 'mixed abilities' were able to reach a higher level of achievement than others might have thought possible. In fact, disabled people are often discouraged from trying to 'push the limits', by public opinion.

Secondly, a portion of the money raised will go towards buying equipment needed for those participants who are aiming at the 2012 Paralympics to be held in Kent. Sounds like a great aim to me.


Image of the Month

There's plenty of paragliding imagery on the Web these days, much of it so-so. Thanks to some paraglider manufacturer friends of mine, I can bring you some great pics that you might not find anywhere else. Hope you enjoy this month's featured picture, below. Just click on it to enlarge.



Here's something you don't want to try at home, unless you are sure you are as good as Antoine Boisselier! Paraglider wing walking! The pic was taken in the famous Chamonix region of northern France. Antoine has both feet on the top surface of an Ozone Buzz.


Website Content of the Month

Pages are always being added to the site, and I've selected three this time. All 3 describe what paragliding is not. Now, if you're keen about paragliding and know all this already, fine. But if so, aren't you just amazed at the misconceptions many people have?

My intelligent, University-educated sister admitted the other day she thought hang gliding and paragliding were the same! I haven't asked her about parasailing. And surely she knows about parachuting! Some people are confused about the differences between all these forms of flying, I believe.

There you go. Forward this newsletter on to all those poor earth-bound souls who desperately need some paragliding education! ;-)


T-shirts of the Month

So much stuff to browse through at CafePress.com these days, including T-shirts. Here's just 6 of my top picks from the most popular items. 3 for men and 3 for women, these links go directly to the item.

Men

'Fly now, work tomorrow' - organic cotton T

'trust in the lord and a good reserve' - dark T-shirt

'FLY' - dark T-shirt

Women

'PARADDICTED' - cap sleeve T-shirt

'Cloudbase - women's T-shirt

'IF IT CAN"T KILL YA IT AINT A SPORT' - raglan hoodie

To keep things fresh, I'll change these to another 6 next month. The 'most popular' T-shirt designs are never the same from month to month anyway!



Bearing in mind that this paragliding newsletter and in fact most of the website is really for 'newbies', any constructive feedback is welcome! Just reply to this newsletter and tell me your thoughts.

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