Flying like birds

The `made for each other' paratrooper couple - KBS Samyal and wife Kopal.  

As a couple they have not only been able to fulfil their childhood dream of "flying like birds in the open skies'', but also managed to make skydiving mean much more to them than mere adventure. While their love for skydiving brought them together, it has forged new bonds of love between them.

Meet Flight Lieutenant K.B.S Samyal and Flight Lieutenant Kopal Samyal -- the country's first husband-wife team of skydivers who have been bringing glory to this particular adventure sport. "Indian Air Force being the master of skies, it is no wonder we are in the forefront of this thrilling sport,'' asserts the duo. It was on February 8 last year when the couple jumped out from an MI-8 helicopter from an altitude of 6,000 feet over the Air Force Station Yelhanka in Aero-India 2001.

``For the time in the history of Indian skydiving, we were falling together in `relative work' configuration. We caught hold of each other at 5,500 feet and fell to 3,500 feet at a speed of 176 feet per second for 10 seconds without opening the parachute,'' says the couple. Individually both of them have several feats to their credit. Kopal is the IAF's first lady officer to have successfully completed adventure skydiving basic course of 30 jumps in 1997 and now has 200 skydiving jumps to her credit.

In fact, she has always left onlookers spellbound wherever she has showed her dare-devilry, be it at the National Stadium and the Ambedkar Stadium in the Capital, the Marina Beach in Chennai or various IAF stations. Similarly, K.B.S. Samyal after joining IAF in 1994 opted for parajumping and is now an instructor at IAF's Paratrooper Training School at Agra. "I have been following my passion,'' says the Flight Lieutenant who has been training officers of the Indian Army.

In India, skydiving started as a military activity in the early 70s and it took two decades for sports skydiving to come into its own, he says, adding that now civilians too were coming forward accepting the challenges of skydiving.

By Sandeep Joshi

Photo: Sandeep Saxena