Friday, February 24, 2017

High school drop-out from Dindigul designs paraglider for Rs 60,000

Madurai: Here's another success story that proves passion is the key to success. A high school drop-out from a Dindigul village has designed a low cost paraglider, realising his childhood dream of taking to the skies.
K A Raja Gnanaprakasam, a 35-year-old contract worker in Vayalur village panchayat near Palani, started working on the low cost paraglider at the age of 23 and completed his work just recently. While similar devices are sold in the market for Rs4lakh or more, he has managed to design one at a cost of Rs60,000.
Gnanaprakasam has designed three paragliders, two of which can carry two people. He is now working on developing a powered hand glider, which is a more sophisticated mechanism. He used engines normally used in agriculture, with power ranging from 230 CC to 300 CC. The gliders are fitted with an anemometer to measure the speed of the wind and an altimeter to keep track on the height at which one travels.
Raja Gnanaprakasam has used a small portion of his agricultural land in his native village Kadathur in Tirupur district as a runway. Every weekend, he takes to the skies, flying around 60 to 70km just to enjoy a birds eye view of his land. "No licence is required for a powered paraglider. Permission is not required to fly up to 500ft. However, I cannot fly within a 40km radius of the airport. I have flown at several thousand feet high after obtaining prior permission from the directorate general of civil aviation, government of India," he says.
Gnanprakasam says that he had to quit school after completing Class 8, to help his father K S Arul Prakasam, in farming activities. However, he managed to complete his MA History through correspondence. "I kept experimenting and came up with this design. I spent much of my youth working on this device. I managed to come up with a satisfactory paraglider only at the age of 35. I failed many times but that never stopped me from trying," he said.
Gnanaprakasam says he can fly at a maximum speed of 120 KMPH. He has fixed a fuel tank with the capacity of 14 litres which is adequate for four hours. "No one taught me about design and technique. I got help from Youtube and other online resources whenever I was stuck," he said.
24/02/17 Devanathan Veerappan/Times of India

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