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Flying High: How a School Dropout From Tamil Nadu Is Designing Low-Cost Paragliders

K A Raja Gnanaprakasam is a 35-year-old high school dropout from Dindigul, Tamil Nadu. Some would immediately write him off as a failure. But they’d definitely be wrong.

The tenacious man with a sharp innovative mind is literally soaring high, having just designed a low-cost paraglider for just Rs 60,000!

A normal paraglider along with the harness and the reserve costs approximately ₹3 lakh and above. But armed with nothing but his own inventiveness and information from the internet, Gnanaprakasam has been taking to the skies every weekend, flying 60-70 km.

Speaking to the Times of India he notes that this project has been a passion of him for many years now. “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.”

Having dropped out in class 8 to help his father with farming, he still managed to get his education through correspondence and today has a Master’s degree in history.

Image for representation. Photo source

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As of right now, he has built three paragliders and is already working on another edition.  Ingeniously using engines that one finds in farming, his paragliders come with a device that measures the speed of wind called anemometer and a feature (altimeter) that displays the height at which one is flying while paragliding.

They can reach up to 120 kmph and a full tank can keep a person flying for at least 4 hours. Having no external training when it comes to the production of paragliders,  he sometimes even took to YouTube to find tutorials!

Where there is a will, there is Gnanaprakasam paragliding away.

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