paragliding in Ölüdeniz Fethiye Turkey


Author:           AKDOĞAN ÖZKAN
Published by:     İNKILAP KITABEVİ
Translator:       Ekin Duru
Date published:   2008

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Babadağ, Fethiye –Muğla

The Focus Magazine once referred to Oludeniz as “the factory distributing wings to people” due to paragliding activities here. The Popular Science and Culture Magazine is justified in its comments in the 2005 September issue. As a matter of fact, Babadağ at an altitude of 1972 metres, coming steeply down to Oludeniz, is a world-renowned centre of paragliding where approximately 30 thousand people used to jump down to the Belcekız beach. Actually the Forbes Magazine included paragliding from Babadağ among the “10 things to be done before death.” In the issue of the magazine dated the 18th of September, 2000, an article signed by John Tierney indicated Babadağ as an ideal corner of the world “to defy gravity”.
Since 2000, the region plays host to International Oludeniz Air Games. The International Air Games Festival, which is considered as one of the most prominent air sports activities, is being held here annually in late October. As a matter of fact, Babadağ and Oludeniz in general are one of the few most suitable places in the world for paragliding due to its location and physical advantages.
However, it is a fact that such beautiful locations in our country, there are certain problems. Likewise, when the operations of this national park were turned over to a private concern, certain problems arose. The entrance fee to the national park area was increased steeply at once. Companies organizing paragliding activities protested this and stopped flights. Consequently, the mountain was deprived of the vivacity of the flights for a while. The operation of the national park was transferred to the Fethiye Union of Service to Villages, the firms took a deep breath. Nowadays, the region is endeavouring to achieve its old liveliness in so far as paragliding goes.
This sport, dating back to the 80s involves running on the slopes of the mounting and taking flight by a parachute which has a high capacity of manoeuvre. By virtue of thermal currents in the sky you can go up to altitudes higher than at the point of your jump. You can stay in the air for hours and fly a distance of kilometres. April-June and September-October are the most suitable periods for this activity.
You can also make tandem flights in paragliding. In other words, an instructor and a customer or a trainee can fly with one parachute.
There are three runways on the mountain suitable to taking off in different wind conditions. These runways are reached by a path from the Ovacık Village in 45 minutes by jeep. If there is not sufficient wind at the runway at 1700 meters, one goes up to 1900 metres. Experienced pilots can fly up as high as 3500 meters and can stay in the air for 5 hours.
The carriage capacity of the parachute is 220 kg. Needless to say, this figure covers 2 people. Once tourist weighing 160 kg was not permitted to fly. So he managed to lose 40 kg in a year and came back to Turkey next year to make his dream come true.
There are many local and foreign names who participated in paragliding at Babadağ. The one-time beauty queen of the USA, Vanessa Williams; the drummer of the Queen group, Roger Taylor; Bob Geldorf; Sinan Çetin, Mustafa Sandal and Kenan İmirzalıoğlu are just a few of them.
The following are among the companies offering paragliding facilities at Babadağ : Skysports, Aventura, Easy Riders, Focus Tourism and Extreme Tandem.
Murat Tüzer of the Olu deniz Association of Paragliding Preservation and Development states that this branch of sports, which make headlines from time to time due to accidents, is actually very safe and that they even took up a paralysed person Like Tüzer, a trainer who holds US HGA certificate and has flown for about 5 hours, numerous other trainers at Babadağ who are enamoured with this sport are endeavouring to establish a Federation of Sail Wings and Paragliding in Turkey.
Go to Oludeniz before you die and take your wings and jump down to the beach from the summit of Babadağ!