Take the plunge like Farhan did

Sep 22, 2011, 07:34 IST | Anjana Vaswani

Two Mumbai boys and ex-IITians are off to Sagar, the city of lakes in the heart of Madhya Pradesh, to organise a skydiving camp this weekend. Ready to free fall?

Two Mumbai boys and ex-IITians are off to Sagar, the city of lakes in the heart of Madhya Pradesh, to organise a skydiving camp this weekend. Ready to free fall?

It's almost becoming an anachronism to say that the Indian Institute of Technology is a premier institution that churns out the country's best techies. Why would Ankur Muchhal and Anil Gelra be in Sagar, on the spur of the Vindhyas in Madhya Pradesh, engineering a festival of free falling otherwise? 

Skydiving may involve a certain amount of free-fall during which the
parachute has not been deployed and the body accelerates to terminal

The two Mumbai boys who had planned to take the traditional route and bag a multinational offer, now operate out of offices in Vashi and Goregaon, thinking up ways for Indian travellers to sign up for matchless  experiences. This weekend, Tushky.com, their 6-month old online travel venture, is organising a commercial skydiving camp in Madhya Pradesh.

"The idea to develop a website that would allow Indians to access unique local experiences was born on an all-boys trip with fellow IITians," says 28 year-old Muchhal, who was running a two-year old firm that made ad films and handled visual communications before he ventured into travel.

On the frequent trips they took with buddies, Gelra and Muchhal noticed the absence of someone who could make the travel experience locally enriching. "The average traveller has typically 12 to15 hours to explore a destination. But he ends up utilising about six at stereotypical tourist attractions."

For this weekend, the two have tied up with USPA (United States Parachute Association) Coach and Pro Static line IAD Examiner / Director Santosh Nagraj. Gelra, in fact, test-drove a session before deciding to collaborate on this one.

Skydiving is the action of exiting an aircraft and returning to earth with the aid of a parachute. It may involve a certain amount of free-fall, a time during which the parachute has not been deployed and the body gradually accelerates to terminal velocity.

"Solo skydiving -- that's about eight seconds of freefall and five minutes of parachute flight -- requires between six to eight hours of training," he says, rather amused by the scene in the recent release, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, where Farhan Akhtar, Hrithik Roshan and Abhay Deol give the adventure-sport a whirl and instantaneously swim around the sky like a bunch of seasoned skydiving pros.

"Swivelling around on a skateboard is a preliminary exercise; one we take Tandem skydivers through," Gelra explains, sharing that in this case, the diver is accompanied by an experienced instructor, and so, requires only about 20 minutes of training.

The upcoming camp will offer both options at a special, promotional rate. Flying solo will cost you Rs 17,500 while tandem skydiving comes at Rs 22,500 per head. "That's just for the jump and the training," Gelra clarifies, adding "We can arrange travel and accommodation too, but this would be at an additional cost."

The additional attraction at Sagar is the opportunity for attendees to watch what might be a world record. Eleven year-old Anamika Sharma, the daughter of one of their esteemed instructors, AK Sharma, a man who holds the national record for the sport, will attempt to break the world record for the youngest tandem skydiver in the world. "There's no maximum age-cap but attendees must not suffer from any serious health problems and should weigh no more than 85 kilos," Gelra says.

But with Nagraj, fondly called the Flying Yogi, heading their team, you can rest assured that safety is paramount here. Nagraj Sharma, Air Commodore TK Rath and Gadi Mohan Rao can, of course, be contacted directly for the skydiving camps they conduct, but, as Gelra points out, "We coordinate the entire experience for travellers and form the groups according to the numbers that are required, so as to make the activity feasible."

3 must-remembers for potential skydivers
>> Go in for a thorough health check-up before signing up. Those who suffer from heart ailments, chronic back problems or blood pressure should not give this a go.
>> Remember to pack a good camera, and a notebook and pen for training. Comfortable-but-snug fitting clothes work best. A loose-fitted shirt can balloon up, restricting your view and jeopardising the flight.
>> Tackle fear by talking to your instructors and researching skydiving on the internet. This will equip you better to deal with the initial panic you are likely to experience as a novice.

Log On to: http://www.tushky.com/
Call: Harpreet on 28714472
A camp is scheduled from September 24 to 27.  Participants must be 16 years or older. Registrations are still open.

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