This looks fun, but what really makes this unique is that this is a paragliding club in Mosul. I guess you could call this sport, ‘combat paragliding’. lol Either way, I think this is great and I certainly hope this catches on and becomes a popular sport there. –Matt
Holly Pickett for The New York Times Ziad Abdulsattar lifts his feet when taking off with a parachute with Falcon Club near Mosul.
By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS AND ZAID THAKER
July 1, 2010
Holly Pickett for The New York Times Members of the Falcon Club paragliding near Mosul.
MOSUL, Iraq – The risk-averse will tell you that it takes a special sort of foolishness to jump from a mountain with just a paraglider strapped to your back.
So what, then, does that make the members of the Falcon Club, an Iraqi group of daredevils who sail through the air above Mosul, which is perhaps Iraq’s most dangerous city?
Holly Pickett for The New York Times Ahmed Assad prepares his parachute before paragliding with the group.
As if flying flimsy contraptions in a war zone was not enough, the Falcon Club faces the added danger of having been a favorite of Saddam Hussein – whose former friends and allies continue to be hunted down by Shiite militias and others.
Indeed, their recklessness leaves even the club’s members seeking a reasonable explanation.
“Flying is like a disease,” said Saba Yasin Fathi, 43, the club’s leader and a former Iraqi air force pilot who lost his left pinky finger to a propeller last year. “You do it once, you want to do it again and again.”
So the Falcon Club endures the suspicions of Iraqi soldiers at Mosul’s innumerable checkpoints who have never heard of a paraglider, have never seen a hot air balloon outside of an American movie and who believe — reasonably — that Iraq is dangerous enough without courting death.