Palampur, November 28
A French pilot was killed in a paragliding accident in Himachal’s Bir Billing—the fourth incident of its kind in the last three years in a state whose statuesque mountains make it an appealing site for such adventure sports.
The latest victim, Cheval Republique, was killed when his glider crashed into a tree near Bir on Saturday morning. Cheval was flying alone at the time of accident.
Palampur’s Vivekananda Medical Research Hospital, where rescuers took him soon after, declared him “brought dead”.
His passport was used to identify him, a senior official from Himachal Government said. His body is currently at a civil hospital and will be kept there until authorities conduct autopsy.
“The French Embassy in New Delhi has also been informed,” he said.
The state government has repeatedly come under criticism for not taking adequate safety measures to prevent such frequent incidents. This has made paragliding a risky business not only in Bir Billing—a place that hosts many foreign adventure sports enthusiast every year—but also in other parts of the state.
A Mohali tourist died in Kullu last year in a similar incident, and a Singaporean pilot died in 2018 after crash landing in the Dhauladhar ranges. He was found in a dense forest later.
Also that year, a Russian and a Latvian were wounded when their gliders crashed, one near Jhatingari and the other in Palampur’s Bundla Hills. Both had had taken off from Billing. Another pilot, Jostewis, was rescued from the mountains, also in 2018.
A senior official claimed that all pilots involved in the recent accidents had adequate flying experience and were allowed only after appropriate checks. However, information available with the Tribune shows that many of the pilots involved in such accidents were inexperienced fliers and had incomplete documents.