How an ambitious, fun loving young man brought the sport of paragliding to Thailand decades ago.
Moving to Japan some 35 years ago as a young man Khun Suwat Hannarong was in search of better working conditions and a new adventure. While working and living in Japan he witnessed local Japanese men flying up into the clouds, sometimes to high he couldn’t see them anymore. Standing awestruck, he knew he had to try this truly awesome sport, and once he did and his feet left the ground he was forever hooked. When he finished his contracts in Japan and he was on his way back to Thailand, then the thought occurred to him to bring this sport to his countrymen in Thailand.
Founding RASAT (Royal Aeronautics Sports Association of Thailand)
Back 1980 there was simply no association in Thailand which dealt with the sport of paragliding so if he was to start a school then he would need government approval. Upon his submission of company documents and proof of his flying ability in Japan the Thai government allowed him to open his school as well as opening the official organization in Thailand for paragliding – RASAT (Royal Aeronautics Sports Association of Thailand), making him the organizations founder and president. Opening his school in Ranong Thailand he began offering his courses to local’s in the area inspiring many to challenge themselves and take to the skies to learn the art of paragliding. His actions soon spread throughout the kingdom and many would come to learn with him, from the basics of equipment preparation to theory and eventually practice. His students flew throughout the kingdom, from Chiang Mai to Surat Thani, Bangkok and Pattaya, students would come and then return to their home provinces bringing this new art with them.
“Fear of heights is normal, if you’re not afraid of heights then this is nor normal” – Khun Suwat Hannarong
The idea of paragliding (modifying a parachute to enable control and ‘gliding’ ability) has been around since the early 1950’s but the actual modification of equipment to be used in a safe and efficient way was not fully recognized and accepted until the early 1970’s. During which time a group of British and French pilots had the idea to run off a slope which would give the speed necessary to fill the sail and give it a slight lift. These first flight wren successful albeit short then did pave the way for more people to try on a suit and take to the skies and so was born the sport of modern day paragliding. Now the sport is recognized all across the globe and pilots can be seen from the Swiss Alps and American Rockies to the rolling hills of New Zealand and Ranong.
Since the sports inception and it’s international popularity it has inevitably been the subject of the human spirit’s ambition and therefore competitions were born. Distances measured and compared, heights tracked and checked, champions were crowned. It’s a sport that draws in all ages of enthusiasts, it’s not only a sport for young adventure seekers, 50+ year old people come out for the sport for the first time, it doesn’t take superior strength or endurance, it only takes one ability to believe in themselves and their equipment and learn everything they can about the art of paragliding. Now competitions are held in many major countries, in fact just last month in Malaysia held a recent a competition, The Terengganu International Paragliding Competition (TIPCO) from May 12-16. Featuring pilots from over 20 countries the competition was a great success, and will be held again next year, so if you’re interested in going, get in touch with Khun Suwat and start your training today. Khun Suwat has trained people for over 2 decades now, he has trained people from the basics only taking pilots a few meters off the ground to professional pilots who set out on many hundred kilometer flights.
Born and raised in Krabi, Khun Suwat has always has had a love for his home, no matter how far he flies he always returns to Krabi and his beloved family. He now teaches prospective pilots to fly on the gently sloping hills around the Krabi airport affording new pilots a safe, quiet and gradual hill on which they can learn. There are 5 levels of piloting certification in the world of paragliding, from para-pro 1-5, pilots can begin to fly on their own once they reach a certification of para-pro 2. Learning with Khun Suwat is a great experience as has has not only a passion for paragliding, but also SCUBA diving opening one of the first dive centers in Ao Nang, over 20 years ago. Khun Suwat is deeply passionate about what he does and about helping others achieve their goals.
If your interested in taking some lessons or just get out and do some flying get in touch with Khun Suwat: