Bogdan flying high at pinnacle of paragliding
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.’