BESUT: The freedom to fly like a bird encouraged Spaniard Pablo Andreu Ocana to pursue paragliding seriously.
Ocana, 22, said he often watched with fascination as others took to the skies on paramotors, or motorised paragliders.
At 17, after completing his studies in his hometown of Seville in southern Spain, Ocana decided to make paragliding his career, and trained diligently for two years.
“I tried my hand at paramotors first. After gaining some experience, I switched to paragliding, flying without the aid of a motor, but just with the flow of the wind.
“This was more challenging and ever more affordable. All one needed was a good height to get going,” said Ocana, one of the participants of the upcoming ‘Terengganu International Paragliding Competition (TIPCO) 2017’, running from May 12-16, at the Kota Putera Paragliding Park in Bukit Bubus, Besut.
The event, part of ‘Visit Beautiful Terengganu 2017’, has attracted over 90 top paragliders from some 50 countries.
Ocana is now an accomplished professional paragliding acrobatic pilot, travelling for competitions around the world.
He has even established his own professional paragliding school – Paragliding Spain – in the town of Algodonales.
“I have since moved to Algodonales, as this is a very popular and conducive area for paragliding.
“There is great demand from children to learn paragliding as a prelude to flying private or commercial aircraft later on.
“I am more than happy to chart their flying career from here, as paragliding as a sport is growing at a more rapid rate than soccer,” said Ocana.
He added that he had found paragliding very special, as it gives one the ease and freedom to fly, with the feel of air on one’s face.
“I can tell you that once you get hooked on it, you just cannot stop with the frenzy and euphoria. You just want more and more. It’s like getting hooked on drugs!” he said.
Today, Ocana trains diligently, learning more tricks and manoeuvres, in his endeavour to reach greater heights.
He has attended numerous paragliding competitions in Europe, mainly in Copa Icaro, El Yelmo and Las Candelas in his native country.
“I have no fear in paragliding, as it is a safe sport, provided you follow all precautions and do not try to overdo it.
“I hope to travel the world and compete in as many events to gain more exposure and experience,” he added.