You don’t need to be a pilot to fly. You don’t even need an aircraft.
If you are a professional rigger, you can come pretty close to flying with the help of some ropes, pulleys, and mountaineering experience.
Being a professional rigger or a mountaineer can lead to very interesting opportunities in the most unlikely places- events, weddings, oil rigs, and even corporate trainings!
We spoke to Avishkar Tendle, Managing Director of Natura, a company which makes people and props fly at live events. If you have seen award ceremonies where artists fly into the stage or dance shows with aerial acts, that’s what we are talking about!
Making people fly high
For Avishkar, outdoor adventures started just as a hobby and he didn’t expect it to become anything more than that. But after he did several courses in skiing, rafting, mountaineering, and the like, he realised this was the field he wanted to work in.
He worked in a couple of organisations in India and then abroad for a year as an Outdoor Educator before coming back to set up his own company.
Avishkar had wanted to introduce extended wilderness programmes for top managements of businesses. But when that did not work out, he found a new avenue for his passion for ropes and pulleys.
“We did an activity with the Terrence Lewis Dance Company where we made him do a Leap of Faith from 60 ft high. He found it really cool and he wanted us provide our service in the entertainment industry,” Avishkar said.
Once they started, there was no looking back. In 2006, they flew Priyanka Chopra on stage for an event and in 2009, they worked with the popular reality show Dance India Dance doing the aerial rigging for them.
Now, Natura works mainly with Event Management companies, choreographers, TV and Film Production Houses, and even Wedding Planners.
Adventure-based Experiential Learning
This is another area you can explore if you are fascinated by the outdoors and you want that daily dose of adrenaline. Adventure-based Experiential Learning takes team-building activities to a whole new level!
Shantanu Pandit is an outdoor educator and a consultant on outbound training programmes or adventure-based experiential training.
“Adventure activities can be very intense and there are elements of adversity and uncertainty in it. Be it a hike or rappelling, each activity is designed based on the objectives of the organisation such as improving communication between departments,” he explained.
For instance, there could be a rappelling activity after which the group will reflect on how that relates to their workplace and what they learned about themselves and their teammates.
If this is an area you want to explore, there are several organisations in India which offer such services.
What else can you do?
Apart from entertainment rigging and experiential learning, Avishkar says that riggers can work in other areas like adventure tourism and industrial rigging.
In adventure tourism, you conduct hikes and climbs, and activities like zip lining.
Industrial rigging could be any role that requires working at a height. It could be for an oil rig, to set up radio towers, or even to clean windows on high-rises.
“Industrial rigging is essentially skilled labour but it still is interesting work. On the whole, you have to be very passionate about adventure to be in this field. It can pay well but it is a tough world with hectic schedules,” Avishkar said.
What training do you need?
Dilip Raghunath Jadhav who works at Natura as a project manager said that one should start with adventure sports to get into this industry.
He is trained in mountaineering, Wilderness First Aid, and he has done other courses on working at heights.
If you grew up watching MTV Roadies and the incredible tasks the participants had to undertake, you should know that many of them were designed by Dilip! He has even used his rigging skills at the Sunburn Festival and for the National Geographic show ‘Flight of the Hawkz’.
There are several institutes in India that offer training in mountaineering such as the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports in Manali, the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in Uttarakhand, and the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling.