Shimla, Oct 6 (IANS) Over 160 pilots from across the world have registered themselves for the seven-day Pre-World Cup Paragliding Championship to held in Himachal Pradesh from Oct 24, organisers said Sunday.
The event, jointly organised by the state government and the Billing Paragliding Association, will be held in the state after a gap of five years.
"A total of 169 pilots from 33 countries have got themselves registered for the championship. The pilot registration is on till Oct 10," association vice-president Suresh Thakur told IANS.
After screening, he said, only 100 pilots holding world-card ranking, including 25 Indians, would be allowed to participate in the championship to be held in Bir-Billing area in Kangra district, some 300 km from the state capital.
Sheltered by mountains and surrounded by rolling tea gardens, Bir-Billing is considered one of the finest aero sports sites in the world.
Event organisers said the take-off site at Billing, situated at a height of 2,325 metres, has been refurbished so that at least four gliders can take off at one time. The landing site at Bir, located at 1,360 metres height, has also been developed for safe landing.
Urban Development Minister Sudhir Sharma, who is president of the Billing Paragliding Association, said international scorer Ulric Jessop would be the official scorer-cum-observer of pre-World Cup event.
Debu Chawdhary, India's best paragliding pilot and world's 52nd ranked paraglider, would be the technical event meet director.
Thakur said there would be no restriction for free flying at Bir-Billing during the championship. "We are expecting that more than 400 pilots during the meet. Currently, 40-50 paragliders are doing flying."
He said sky diving, gliding and air acrobatics would also be organised during the tournament.
The top scorers of the Pre-World Cup Paragliding Championship will qualify for the Paragliding World Cup to be held next year.
The World Cup Tour 2014 will be held in Mexico (Feb1-8), Argentina (March 1-8), France May (24-31), Portugal (June 21-28) and Macedonia (July 19-26).
The pre-World Cup event organisers said initially hand-gliding was started in 1984 by Israeli pilots at Bir-Billing. Thereafter, paragliding was started in 1992 by French pilots.
The government hosted the Paragliding Pre-World Cup from 2002 to 2007 at Bir-Billing. Then Paragliding Category-II and national championships were started by the state youth services and sports department.
With the mighty Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas in its backdrop, Bir-Billing's name has also been included in international circuits for steady thermals.