Bog­dan fly­ing high at pin­na­cle of paraglid­ing

Wexford People - - NEWS - BY DAVID LOOBY

A PARAGLIDER who lives in New Ross is mak­ing a name for him­self in the sport hav­ing come sec­ond in a ma­jor in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion in Ser­bia re­cently, by reach­ing speeds of 100 km/h.

Bog­dan Bialka (40) has lived in New Ross for the last 12 years. The Pol­ish na­tional was called to represent Ire­land in April and is the only Ir­ish paraglider to com­pete at ma­jor com­pe­ti­tions.

Bog­dan, who works at Lake Re­gion Med­i­cal, said his suc­cess ‘was a great achieve­ment for Ir­ish air sports’.

He got hooked on the sport hav­ing tried a tan­dem flight 11 years ago in Turkey. He loved the feel­ing of be­ing ex­posed to air, space and al­ti­tude in a har­ness with his legs hang­ing out. ‘A lot of peo­ple dream about fly­ing and I do it for a passtime. It is my pas­sion. Peo­ple fly in­side a plane and it is safe, but I pre­fer be­ing out­side, close to na­ture, with birds fly­ing by.’

Bog­dan spe­cialises in cross coun­try fly­ing, travelling dis­tances of be­tween 50 km/h and 250 km/h.

‘You fly as long as pos­si­ble at speeds of up to 100 km/h. It’s very ad­dic­tive. Once you start do­ing it you can never for­get it.’

Bog­dan is a mem­ber of the Ir­ish Handg­lid­ing and Paraglid­ing As­so­ci­a­tion. He trav­els all over Ire­land and Europe to glide and to hike and glide. He said be­ing fit is im­por­tant, but not es­sen­tial, adding that peo­ple aged over 70 par­tic­i­pate in the sport. ‘There is not much adren­a­line in­volved. If you are fear­less you don’t live long. I love fly­ing but I want to be an old pilot.’

The Cra­cow na­tive com­peted against some of the best paraglid­ers in the world at the Poland & Ser­bia Open. ‘I am fo­cussing on my sport­ing ca­reer right now. I just work and train. Fly­ing re­quires a lot of ded­i­ca­tion. It is an ex­pen­sive sport and I am look­ing for a spon­sor, but will pay for ev­ery­thing my­self if needs be.’

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