Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
VICTORIA Falls hosted a paragliding air race involving 29 pilots last week.
The pilots drawn from the Czech Republic, Israel, Mexico, South Africa, United Kingdom and United States of America, treated Victoria Falls adrenalin lovers to some unique flyovers.
One of the organisers Kester Haynes of Adventurers from the UK said the race has potential to develop sport tourism and will he held annually on a rotational basis.
“This is the only race of its kind and it’s the first time it is being held, with Africa the first to host. Next year we will be in Brazil.
“The race started in Johannesburg on July 25 and they arrived in Victoria Falls via Botswana after eight,” said Haynes at an awards dinner in the resort town on Thursday.
Paragliding is a combination of a glider and parachute where a pilot carries on his back a glider with a two stroke motor powered engine with a combined weight of around 45kg.
It has capacity to thrust forward 75kg mass and can move at a speed of between 50 and 60km per hour in still air and can go as high as 10 000 feet above the ground.
The paraglider uses a wing engine which enables take-off from flat ground and calm air and not on a hill, and while the engine helps power it up and forward, the parachute helps with safe landing.
The pilots use GPS navigation trackers monitored from a central point where their speed, altitude and safety are monitored.
Haynes said paragliding is the world’s toughest air race whereby participants carry all their stuff, including food, fuel and other provisions.
“It’s all in the spirit of adventure and interaction as they have to stop along the way to refuel and meet people. All these are now sport tourism ambassadors for the country and we might come again another year, but next year we will be in Brazil.”
A former British soldier Gaile Royce, now a double amputee after both his legs were blown by a landmine in Afghanistan, is one of the pilots.
He said he enjoys the race although this time he had come as part of the rescue team.
Sport tourism is one of the activities earmarked to lure visitors to the country, with a Grand Prix arena also on the cards in the resort town.