Parahawking: Like Paragliding, With Hawks

This image seems straight out of a surrealistic Terry Gilliam film. The guy flying with the two giant birds is Scott Mason, who uses them to detect thermal currents to fly his paraglider through the skies of Nepal. Zoom in:

That is an Egyptian vultures, a Neophron percnopterus. Mason have been rescuing them since he was 11, and now he keeps doing that and trains them as his fly instruments. This is how it works: He carries one at take off. Once he is airborne, he frees the raptor, who starts looking for warm, ascending air currents. Mason—who usually flies with another person, charging $US147 per flight—then steers the paraglider following the vulture for a while. Every now and then, Mason will use a whistle to call the vulture, who returns to the owner from behind, landing on his arm.

Mason has other birds too. In fact, he rescues, nurtures, and then frees them into the wilderness as soon as he can. I so want to do this. [SFGate]

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