Thursday, May 15, 2008

Flying high in Ölüdeniz.


T
his morning, I soared like a bird, high above the Aegean Sea....and what a fun and memorable experience it was!!

Flashback to about two hours earlier. Lei and I awoke at a reasonable hour and gave ourselves about 1/2 hour to eat breakfast. I had arranged with the paragliding company, Sky Sports, to come and pick us up and take us from Fethiye ("Fet-thee-ya") to Ölüdeniz ("Oh-loo-den-nis"), a nearby seaside town that is world famous for paragliding. Of course, the driver shows up early so we had to gulp down breakfast as fast as we could. Into the car and 30 minutes later we were in Ölüdeniz. We checked in with Sky Sports - signed a release waiver and then hung around the beach until we were ready to head out.
It was still relatively early in the morning so the sunbathers were not yet out - attendants were just beginning to set out the loungers.
















At one point, we saw several paragliders landing on the beach. We watched closely as to how they landed as we quickly realized that we would have to do the very same thing ourselves.
Soon, we got called back from the beach. We climbed into the backseat of a truck and made our way out of town. Straight, paved roads soon turned into windy, unpaved roads. We were slowly chugging our way up Mt. Babadag to our launch point which was about 1760m above sea level.





















I was enjoying the changing vistas as we ascended the mountain though poor Lei was beginning to feel nauseous as motion sickness was beginning to kick in. Fortunately for her, it was a short ride.

We had a few minutes to enjoy the view of the sea from terra firma before we had to get suited up.
It was jumpsuits and helmets on and a photo op to capture the moment before takeoff.






















As we got prepped so were the parachutes - everything was laid out on the ground and checked and doublechecked. We were flying tandem so we each had our own pilot to prep and guide us through the process.





We then got harnessed into our swing seats and given our instructions for takeoff. Basically, run as fast as we can until our feet no longer touch the ground. Lei took off first and then I followed. I had to put away my camera for takeoff but once in the air, I took it out and began snapping photos and taking video. The sight of the sea and land, nearly a mile below my feet, was breathtaking.







As we floated above the sea, Mussa who was my pilot gave me the lay of the land - pointing out where the various towns were. I tried to capture as much as I could on video - including my conversation with Mussa. I was very relaxed throughout the entire ride - I could have floated forever!!

The background sound in the video is the wind blowing through the legs of my nylon jumpsuit.



 
We soared for a bit, catching updrafts to float higher. We also took a few seconds for some photo ops - who can resist having their picture taken while paragliding? Have to have some bragging rights :-)


 Then, Mussa asked me if I wanted to do a spiral. Hello? Of course I did!! With my answer in hand, Mussa took us into a spiralling dive. You can hear my voice and the rush of the wind in the video.
 


What an adrenaline rush those few seconds were!! Once we came out of the spiral, we continued to float towards ground and soon we landed. Lei was already waiting for me and when I landed, we both ran towards each other and laughed with glee! We both agreed that our time in the air was much too short and that we wanted to do it again and again and again!