Pilot Safari Dates and Prices
In 2017 we will run two tours: 13th - 22nd Oct and Oct 23rd - Nov 1st.
There are a few options for the type of guiding you may require. They are based around the guide to pilot ratio. ie 1:1, 1:2 and 1:5 and these are explained below. The tighter the ratio the more air to air attention you can receive from your guide. 1:5 is a cheaper option but the inevitable dilution of the guides attention means that the routes undertaken are more limited.

The tours will be based at the Colonel’s comfortable organic homestead in Bir, although alternative accommodation can be arranged. (If you want to) There will be at least one overnight in a different locations (see
itinerary) that we can fly to during our exploration. Where possible all groups will land at the same destination.

Partner Guiding. Guide:client ratio 1:2 £1600
more flexibility.

A great option for two pilots of a similar ability to have more personal guidance at a great value price…. with the possibility of more ambitious flights over the back.

Private guiding. Guide:client ratio 1:1 £2700

Total flexibility.

This is our most popular option.

1:1 guiding is the way to improve your skills as quickly as possible, whether you are an experienced cross-country pilot or a relative novice. In 2011 we had our old client and friend Gavin McLurg return for a tour with John. Their amazing week’s flying included an out-and-return vol-bivouac to the mountain above Manali, with a night spent at 3500 metres. The following tour we were joined by actor Dominic West, star of The Wire, who also opted for 1:1. Before he arrived his longest flight was 15 minutes, getting 200 feet above the grassy slopes of Wiltshire. On his second day flying with Jim, he spent three hours in the air, covering 30km at heights of up to 3400m.

The first few days will usually be flown within a group, but since you will have a personal designated guide, if your flying speed is faster than the gaggle, you have the potential to lead off and make full use of the day. Conversely, should you get stuck low, then the guide will be able to come down and help locate the climb quickly, so staying with the group.

Later in the week, we can fly to the overnight destination(s) along with the group, or take a more adventurous route to the same goal field. The guide will be able to tailor flying to your ambitions and ability, whilst staying within a comfort zone. It would also be possible to make more difficult and ambitious flights over the back, possibly to Manali, or Parasar lake.

Group guiding. Guide:client ratio 1: 5 £750

The flying will be done as a group of 5 pilots + 1 guide. It would be good to keep the pilot levels as close as possible as people fly at different rates. We try to manage this by flying out and returns and picking up the stragglers on the return journey. Experience has shown, that this good for pilots who only want an hour or so everyday.

The exploration areas in this guide to pilot ratio will include the front Bir ridge, and an overnight camp at a remote destination, but will not include flights over the back in the bigger ranges and the more remote areas.


Whilst we strive to make flying with HSS as safe as possible in each guiding option, we believe that safety is highest when we work 1:1. This is the only time that it is possible to fly individually with a pilot and when we always try to land with them, helping select the most suitable field. For this reason, private guiding is not only suitable for the ambitious advanced pilot who wants serious exploration, but also a sensible option for any pilot who wants to progress as quickly and safely as possible.

What is/isn’t included?
The price covers seven days of air to air guidance during the ten days of the tour as rest days sometimes become a longed for necessity. However in reality some guidance generally happens every day. Board and lodging costs are not included but we are happy to make the necessary arrangements for you if you give us an idea of budget. Because we tend to be flying all day lunch doesn’t normally happen - we go somewhere for chai, a snack and a debrief after we land.
The transport costs to take off are included however the cost of any unplanned retrieves is not included in the price. They are unlikely. If, however, they do happen they are not that expensive (landing in the wrong valley over the back can add several hours onto a retrieve) but reasonable shared out among everyone.
If anyone needs any help with transport from/to airports we can help arrange and advise on this but the cost is not included in the tour.
Where we’re based
HSS is based at the Colonel’s comfortable hotel homestead in Bir. http://www.colonelsresort.com and we do recommend it. We block book one wing for our Safaris: 2 standard single (shared ensuite) and 2 double en-suite on the first floor. If you do make an independent booking be sure to mention that it is for one of our tours. We can make the booking if you prefer.
The hotel has the most charming owners and staff, is most relaxed and has almost everything covered. In short, we are spoilt! However this does make it a more pricey option (approx $35pn), there are other good options nearby (approx $20pn).

Bir for flying.
Launch is at 2400m. There are east, south and west launch directions. The wind is usually light on east (alpine) until early afternoon, then a more consistent westerly wind usually establishes.
Top landing is good, but only ever really has the one approach, and it needs to be precise. To do it safely in style does take practice, so be ready to go around a fair few times to learn the wind, and we do recommend that you have a good discussion with us or at least watch a few times before you try it yourself.
The landing field at Sunset is probably my favourite LZ in the world. Big and safe with often a very light wind, letting you skim the grass for what feels like ages (just like the glides!!!...this place is truly amazing for flying).
Sunset is very chilled, there’s a laid back chai shop on east side and a cool coffee shop on the west side. There are lots of wings coming in for most of the afternoon. It’s a very relaxed sociable place to be, unless there happens to be a PWC, and then you just add loud to that list.

(Bir Colony) is less than a 10 min walk to the centre, and if you are feeling lazy it will not be hard to find a taxi.
Bir is a really friendly little town, and accommodates us brilliantly.

The most convenient international airport to arrive at is Dehli where it is possible to take a transfer to Dharamsala (+ 2hr taxi) or Kullu (5 hr taxi); a train to Pathenkot 12hr + 4hr taxi or an additional 12hrs on the “toy train”; the night volvo bus10hr to Baignath or a taxi 12hr to Bir. We can arrange for taxis to collect you anywhere.

Looking forward to flying with you.

For bookings or enquiries send Eddie an email

Photo: Jody MacDonald