The Day arrives
After a year of planning, July 23, we got onto a flight to Moscow where we were scheduled to meet up with Pankaj a pilot/friend who flies with us frequently at Kamshet. Pankaj who lives in Moscow showed us around the city as flying was not possible. A couple of days later the 3 of us were on a flight to Dalaman airport via Istanbul. Dalaman is only an hour away from Oludinez our main destination. A cab was waiting for us organised by Steve who had been in Turkey weeks before us. Oludeniz was all and more than what we had imagined. Long stretches of white sand, deep blue seas, the famous blue lagoon, that special Mediterranean feel with a profusion of grape vines, plums, figs growing out of every nook and corner and the sacred mountains stretching out into the beach. Rob and Debbs met up with us that evening at beachfront. At the Buzz Bar all we could talk about was flying Babadag the sacred mountain looming in the distance.
Located in the Mediterranean region this country is surrounded by the 4 seas - Mediterranean, Aegean, Black and Caspian seas. Her neighbours are Greece to the west, Bulgaria to the North -West, (old) Russia to the North and North - East, Iran to the South - East, Syria and Iraq to the South. Istanbul the capital is the only city in the world positioned over two continents i.e. Asia & Europe. Turkey proudly maintains her culture and tradition. Shoe makers have not been run out of town by Nike, kebabs have not been replaced by burgers and fries, Ottoman mansions have been preserved and building regulations have ensured that most areas retain their natural charm. And apart from offering some brilliant flying, Turkey offers you the sincere hospitality of the Mediterranean people, Superb ancient Roman and Lycian sites, dramatic inland and coastal scenery, excellent food, and a rich culture combining the best of Europe and Asia. Once you have made your first visit to Turkey, there is a good chance you'll visit again!
The world famous and one of the most beautiful wonders in the world Oludeniz is worth travelling to over miles and miles, for the turquoise blue waters of its wonderful lagoon. It is also one of the most ideal places in the world for Paragliding. Oludeniz lies 12 kms south of the local town, Fethiye. Since the opening of an international airport (1984) at Dalaman, 65 kms away, the area, centered round the Oludeniz Beach has become one of the most popular tourist venues for it's magnificent scenery, a clear turquoise sea, and interesting surroundings.
From the foothills of Babadag a glistening white beach stretches 3 kilometers to a salt-water lagoon, which is now a national park. The lagoon lives up to its name Oludinez = calm sea. The beach is backed by family-run hotels, all built within the last 10 years and several holiday villages. The beach area offers a choice of different cuisines, several bars and shops. As the resort is small, there is a friendly atmosphere, and within a few days you will get to know most of the "locals".
Oludeniz by Night
After paragliding over the Mediterranean, swimming in the Blue Lagoon and lazing on the beaches, that first beer of the evening is always a real treat. At sunset the bars and restaurants on the beachfront are the perfect place to watch the colorful gliders, as they wing down to a soft landing. The Buzz Bar and Sugar Shack are the popular meeting spots for PG pilots who come from all over the world to fly here. Cloud 9 is another meeting place for pilots, throughout the gliding season as this is where the gliders come in for landing. You may even get to watch yourself paragliding on the big screen TV as videos taken during the day are shown in the bar. The beach is lined with restaurants and bars offering different cuisines and atmosphere ranging from quiet to grooving. A friendly and personal atmosphere pervades the area and is enhanced by pilots & travellers of all nationalities.
Paragliding At Babadag
From time immemorial these mountains have been regarded as sacred. Today Babadag (literally Father Mountain) is known for its prime paragliding and ancient cedar forests.
Good wind conditions, thermals reaching up to 4000 meters ASL, fantastic views and proximity to the sea, make Oludeniz one of the safest scenic places to fly in the world, even several times a day, staying in the air for over an hour, and doing SIV courses and XC flights.
With perfect launch areas near the 1960 m summit of Babadag and two main take-offs, one at 1900 meters, and the other at 1700 meters. A 27 kms drive up through the cedar forests takes you right up to takeoff. On takeoff from Babadag the flight path takes you soaring over ridges, beaches, lagoons and the Mediterranean sea. A straight top to bottom takes anywhere from 30 to 45minutes. Landing is not visible from takeoff. Flying over the sea at 4500 feet above sea level makes it perfect for practicing maneuvers over the sea. Once you have optimum height you glide towards the mile of golden sand for a soft landing.
Our Daily Flight(s)
Each day we made the trip up to takeoff in a 4 wheel drive hired from one of the companies at the beach. Being a forest reserve one had to pay a fee for the use of the road to takeoff. (6.5 million lira approximately 7 pounds covers the forestry tax and transport) The steep road winds uphill to takeoff and then you wait for the right wind. A sharp eye on the windsocks all over and suddenly its time to spread your glider and run like mad over rubble. A thermal gust later you are airborne and rising. Gliding over the forests with the clouds below, you head for the sea.
High above the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean at the height of 4000 feet is a likely place to practice maneuvers such as B line stalls, 360 degree turns, full stalls, wing overs, spiral dives, assymetric tucks, collapses, spins the works then you land. If you are in a hurry to head for a dip in the blue lagoon or indulge in a long cool drink, trained packers will pack your glider for a pound.
3 awesome weeks of paragliding off Babadag never tiring, never getting enough of "the father mountain", the spectacular scenery, flying through the clouds and over the ancient cedar forests that enshroud this sacred range.
XC to Butterfly Valley (7 Kms Away)
Took off from Babadag's (1700 takeoff) knowing that once you get past the 1/2 way mark there is no turning back. After a 45 - minute flight we reached the valley at 2500ft above sea level. Butterfly valley is a gorge Butterfly Valleysurrounded by high cliffs with a beautiful strip of virgin beach in the middle. The plan was to loose height over the sea, sneak in along the ridge into the valley and land on the beach. However we encountered strong convergence at the entrance of the valley which made us regain the height as quickly as we lost it. Had to use rapid decent maneuvers such as B line stalls, big ears with speed bars and the more adventurous doing full stalls. A small group of paragliders set out for the valley: Rob and Debbs on the tandem; Rao, Jerry (an English pilot) and Pankaj on solo paragliders.
Pankaj missed the valley and landed beyond on the cliff amidst power lines, rocks, trees and rotors. Fortunately he found a small shop by the road selling beer and after quenching his thirst took a cab back to Oludinez.
Jerry encountered turbulence and since he had enough height headed back for landing at Oludeniz but made it half way to Paradise Valley. The rest of us landed safely in Butterfly Valley. A beautiful virgin beach, the home of the unique Jersey Tiger Butterfly. We headed for the tree- house to relax and soak in the beauty of the valley and later that evening made the return journey by boat. The sea was rough with boats pitching ten feet and one had to calculate the timing and make a committed grab for the ladder. Luckily the fishermen helped us with the gliders. A choppy 45 minute ride back to the blue lagoon and Oludeniz.
This exciting visual treat takes place every Thursday evening and the best place to watch it is from the hospitable Sky Sports pavilion sipping a chilled beer. Watch the experts in action display daredevil flying & innovative techniques. Loops, spirals, base jumping from tandems...the works.
4500 feet over the sea, is a great place to develop the skills needed to recover your glider from the most severe situations you may encounter. Under the guidance of the instructor calmly talking you through a progressive sequence of situations and recoveries from the rescue boat below, you learn to recognise and recover from deflation's, stalls spins and spiral dives. Jocky Sanderson has been running SIV courses in Turkey for the last 8 years. The course keeps you up to date with the most current techniques in controlling modern gliders. The maneuvers include: Big Ears, B-Lining, Wing Overs, Symmetric Deflation & Recovery, Asymmetric Deflation & Recovery, Deflation's, Search for Stall & Stall, Solo stall & fast stall & Recovery, Search for Spin,Flat Spin and Spiral Dives