Paragliding in Armenia / Photo: Harutyun Atshemyan
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Our cars stop by the ropeway station in the village of Tsovagyugh on the shore of the Lake Sevan. The weather is gorgeous – the huge mirror of the lake framed with the mountain range reflects the clear blue sky with a few clouds scattered here and there. We unload the cars, taking out the “wings” – that’s how the pilots lovingly call the paragliders. The paragliding gear is packed in large backpacks, we load them onto the ropeway seats and take the ropeway to the top of the hill. The view from the top is breathtaking - you can see the lake in all its beauty surrounded by the powerful mountains and green fields. Every moment of preparation gets you more and more excited – the rustling of the wings being unpacked, the slow and careful gear checks, the cheerful jokes and the overall atmosphere of excited anticipation for a great day.
Paragliding above Lake Sevan / Photo: Harutyun Atshemyan
The wings are ready and spread on the grass of the take-off site and the gusts of wind make them dance in colorful patterns adding to the thrill of the great expectation – the first flight. Flying in a tandem with a professional pilot is the easiest way to experience a truly amazing flight, and if you are lucky enough you may even be given a chance to steer the paraglider once you are in the air to fully feel the joy of flying.
After a brief instruction on what you need to do as the “passenger” you are buckled into the harness which in its turn is attached to the pilot’s harness. The last check of all buckles and carabiners, and here comes the most exciting moment – the right wind, and the command to run for the take off. As the wing is raised and filled with air, running becomes more difficult for a moment and you gasp for air frantically remembering the instructions, “Lean forward, and run with all your might, no matter what happens! Continue running even when your feet are off the ground!”
The take-off of a tandem flight / Photo: Gayane Tonoyan
You run like crazy for about a dozen of steps, and then suddenly you’re in the air, flying like a bird. Your heart pounds with the surge of adrenaline, your eyes open wide trying to take in all the beauty around, and emotions burst out in a scream that echoes all over the lake and the mountains. You are higher than the mountains, and the world below suddenly looks so far away as the houses, cars and squares of fields get smaller and smaller.
The full realization of what the flight is comes a bit later, once the adrenaline of the take-off recedes a little, and that’s such a powerful feeling that makes you smile ear to ear for many hours even after you land. While you are in the air, time stops and you get the most absolute feeling of being right there in that moment with everything else blacked out by the intensity of the new experience.
Armenia from above - a pilot's cockpit view / Photo: Harutyun Atshemyan
Once you have experienced the flight, you have two options – you either land and live happily ever after carrying the awesome memory, or you get so hooked you want to learn to fly yourself. Learning to fly solo is quite a difficult process that will require much effort and time, but it is so worthwhile – the super-intense emotions of the tandem flight are nothing compared to the first time you fly alone after a couple of months of theoretical and practical training!
Armenia is a perfect place for paragliding, both in terms of tandem and solo flights. With most of its territory covered with mountains, Armenia has many flying spots suitable for pilots of all levels, and flying weather is available practically all year round.
Flying above the clouds with Mt. Ararat on the background / Photo: Harutyun Atshemyan
Paragliding has been getting more and more popular in Armenia in the last years. In addition, as several international competitions have been held in the country recently, Armenia is becoming an increasingly popular destination for professional pilots looking to try out some new flying destinations.
Whether you are an experienced pilot wanting to fly in Armenia, an aspiring pilot looking to learn paragliding, or just an adventure seeker yearning to experience the flight in tandem with a professional pilot, paragliding in Armenia will be an incredible experience and you will be sure to cherish memories of flights for a long time after landing!