Paragliding instructor Scott Mason often takes to the skies accompanied by an expert guide – a vulture. The trained bird of prey leads him on flights to thermal columns high above the Spanish mountains. In doing so, Mason’s aerial trips are extended in time.
Birds regularly use thermal columns to keep them buoyed in the air. Birds of prey often will use thermals to extend their flight time to search for food and use less energy. Flocks of birds also use thermals to gain altitude and go further distances while migrating.
Sensing thermals is not all that this vulture does when out on flights with Mason. Mason has trained the bird to perch on his camera stick too.
Mason calls this shared flight activity with the bird parahawking. It combines paragliding with falconry. Mason, an expert falconer, has done it in many places around the globe. In the video below, he is paragliding in Nepal with passengers accompanied by vultures Kevin and Bob.