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Come fly with me!

by libralady (8/9/2007)

Come fly with me!

Those of you who know Ölüdeniz will know about paragliding.  You will have seen the hundreds of tandem flights with colourful canopies land everyday.  You will see unsuspecting tourists scampering away, as the pilot negotiates the trees and buildings and lands on his spot.  There is an abundance of paragliding companies selling flights, at various prices and there is an art in trying to find the right company.


For those of you who have not been to Ölüdeniz, will probably have no idea what I am talking about. Ölüdeniz is a well renowed paragliding paradise, because of the height of the take off points, the brilliant thermals that take the paraglider souring high above the mountains and sea, and the magnificent scenary.  Every October there is the Paragliding Championships, people from all over the world attend.


It is said to be the best take off site in Europe and possibly the world, coupled with the breathtaking views it really is an experience not to be missed.


You might guess where this is going, and I may have mentioned it in the forum at some point, but I was keen to take a tandem flight.  Having done it before in France, I know what to expect and I could not wait to book a flight.  As I mentioned above, there are many companies selling flights and we found out before we booked, that the price of the flight varied according to the experience of the tandem pilot.  The price also takes account of the road toll on the mountain and the cost of renting the landing pad.  We chose our company and booked our flights.


As you do when on holiday, you chat to other holiday makers about various trips, there merits and downfalls and the obvious topic of conversation if always going to be paragliding!  You get the:

"I would never do that"  to the

"I have done it many times" conversations. 


Then you get the

"The journey up the mountain is worse than the flight" and

"I hated it, I was sick within a few minutes, all over the pilot and inside my helmet.  He couldn't get me down quick enough"


(Incidentally, the man who told us about being sick, was also sick on the jeep safari and quad biking!!)

Nothing would put me off, and in fact it makes me even more determined to carry anything through, if people try to put me off!  It is the stubborness in me...............


So, the time arrived to take our flight, and we loaded up into an open sided jeep, and off we went.  Now we found from our previous experience that paragliding pilots, just by the nature of what they do, are quite a crazy bunch, so we were not surprised when one of the pilots climbed out of the moving truck and around the side to the drivers window.  Or when another pilot, who was videoing the journey, also climbed out the back of the truck and down the other side, to video everyone in the truck.


It took around 45 minutes of hair raising jeep safari to reach the top of Babadağ mountain, around 1980mtrs, winding precariously up the mountain, with, again, some of the most wonderful scenary you will ever see.  Views over to Ovacik, Hisarönü and you could see Fethiye too.  The occasional tortoise braved the road, and was carefully avoided by the driver.  We passed cisterns by the road side and grazing goats and sheep.  Cypress trees lined the mountain side, with steep shear drops down from the edge of the road.  The jeep stopped at one point to pay the toll up to the mountain.  The man collecting the money had a huge wad of cash in his hand.  You eventually drive above tree line to reach the take off point.


On the way up, there was a repertoire of jokes from the pilots and some intentional scare stories, which we found amusing.  The young man filming asked if this was our first time, and we replied "no it is our second" and he said "mine too" with a chuckle! I also found myself trying to work out who was the pilots and which one mine would be.  Of course when we reached the top we found that the "joker" was in fact one of the pilots.


Arriving at the top, there was a distinct change in temperature, and incredible views.  The atmosphere was one of peace and calm as the pilots took out the canopies and laid them out on the mountain top.  I was given a very sexy yellow flattering suit to wear which was big enough for someone twice my size.  Eventually the time had come for me to take my position ready for flight.  After a quick briefing of what to do, run for a few steps and when we take off, sit back.


Whilst I write this, my heart is starting to pound at the thought of the flight, as I did then with anticipation. 


"Ok", he said, "we are ready, now start running"


So I starting running, and my feet were off the ground and we where airborne. WHOA!!!!! I shuffled into the seat and looked around me.  We floated back and forth across the mountain, waiting for my husband, who had a false take off, after tripping over a bush!! 


I guess we were up there some 10 minutes waiting for him, flying at around 2000+ metres above the sea, taking in the views of Butterfly Valley to one side, and Lykia World hotel with its private beach and numerous tennis courts.  Turning around seeing Fethiye nestling in the bay, the Blue Lagoon and its beaches littered with sunbeds, (complete hot sweaty sunbathers) and bright red umberellas, St Nicholas Island, and further round, Ovacik and Hisarönü.  There were a few yachts at sea and a gulet moored in the bay the other side of the Blue Lagoon, with pedallos and canoes looking like small white dots in the sea.


It was unbelievable, fantastic, heart thumping experience. So many people do it but the pilot makes you feel special.  He talked to me the whole time and I asked questions about the views.  He took off my helmet and videoed the flight.  We seemed to be in the air for ages, and eventually my husband was able to take off and he and his pilot came along side, and we shouted to each other.  He is braver than me, and wanted to have a spin.  I just wanted to savour the moment, the moment that in years to come, I will tell my grandchildren and of course torture them with the video we bought (as my camera had gone wrong). 


We started to descend slowly and then I saw my husband below, having his spin, above our hotel! Because of the spinning effect the flight is shorter as the descent is much faster.  He landed sooner than me and was on the ground waiting for me.  The flight took us over the sea, the hotels, the Blue Lagoon until eventually our course took us over the hotels and shops on the promenade to our landing spot.


What an incredible experience, far better than the flight in France, and more professional too.  The feeling you have when you are up there, is that you are floating, there is no sensation of movement, except for the wind in your face.  You have no idea how fast or slow you are going, until you come to land.  I then felt the speed and a slight churn in my stomach as our feet touched the ground.


With the flight over you feel a sense of loss, a "what do I do now feeling".  I just wanted to do it again!  As we stood with our pilots chatting, we noticed a solo paraglider coming in, unable to make the landing pad, ending up in the sea!  Within a few seconds a speed boat was beside him, dragging him out of the sea.   We found out later he was training and thank goodness he was OK.


But flight over and our goodbyes said, we made out way to the nearest bar, for a well earned beer and to recall our experiences.  I can't wait to do it all again!


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