Each year, in October, the Fethiye events calendar features the International Ölüdeniz Air Games. We always try to get over there for at least one of the days just to soak up a bit of the atmosphere, take a few photos and enjoy the last throes of the summer season on the beach. If the weather’s playing nicely, this is usually our last swim of the season in the sea, too.
2016 is the 17th time the Ölüdeniz Air Games have taken place and whilst it’s been happening, we’ve had a sizeable mob of friends and their friends holidaying in Fethiye. And, happy days, the weather has been ridiculously well behaved, has played very nicely and that meant we all got to troop over the hill for a day on Belcekiz Beach and more than a spot of sky watching.
17th International Ölüdeniz Air Games
Ahh, what a difference a bit of sunshine and clear sky makes, eh? You wouldn’t believe how often the weather has broken for this event in the past. It’s become almost like a Bank Holiday weekend in Britain. Great weather in the run up to it and then, just as holiday fever kicks in, everyone’s plans are up in the air because the thunder and rain decide to put in an appearance and come to say hello.
Yeah, well, thank you October 2016 weather. What a great end of season boost the air games have been for the area, this year.
A Great Turn Out For The Air Games
Great to see so many people in the bars and restaurants along Belcekiz Beach on the day we were there. Great to see so many people on the beach and along the promenade – most of them looking up at the sky. And great to hear the commentator explaining to us all what we were witnessing in the sky rather than apologising for the unsuitable weather conditions and therefore lack of anything going on.
So, it was all set up for a perfect day. Sunny and clear and not too much breeze; ideal conditions for those that like to be airborne with not much more than a piece of fabric controlling their descent to terra firma. And ideal conditions for a beach day…with a couple of bar intervals thrown in just for good measure.
Programme Of Events
There was a programme of events for the day. We knew there were going to be various daredevil paragliding displays. We knew there were going to be parachutes, hang gliders, paramotors (it’s difficult to find an event in Fethiye that doesn’t have paramotors), microlights and a remote control aeroplane display.
Apart from the paramotors at sunset, we hadn’t really registered what time everything else was happening. It really didn’t matter. Because that’s the best way to enjoy the International Ölüdeniz Air Games. Get yourself down there for the day, get a spec on the beach, go for a wander, get a good spec in a bar along the front so you can still see what’s going on above, head back to the beach, have a swim or a paddle.
And all the time, while you’re doing all of this, the sky is completely alive with the vibrant colours of the canopies of paragliders and parachutes. Some are soaring with the thermals until they’re barely visible. Others are making their descent. Some pilots gliding gently whilst others swirl, spin and roll as the commentator guides your eyes between the aerobatic displays.
Would You Do It?
Some pilots are solo, whilst others are doing team displays. And, in the meantime, should you happen to be in Ölüdeniz and you fancy hurtling down the steep hills of the take off points on the high slopes of Babadağ, well of course, you can have a go for yourself.
The International Ölüdeniz Air Games are also a great end-of-season business for the paragliding companies who specialise in giving tourists the paragliding experience. The reason we’ve had so many friends holidaying in Fethiye at the moment is because one of them is here for their 40th birthday.
40th Birthday Paragliding Treat
A 40th. A milestone. A time in your life when lots of people decide they’re gonna do something to remember. Our friend decided his ‘something to remember’ would be paragliding from the summit of Babadağ in tandem with a pilot. And what better time of year to do it than when the air is crispy clear and you’re sharing the sky with some of the world’s top paragliders?
We all had an ETA for his landing and we all knew roughly where he would be landing. Hmm, the best laid plans, eh. We were sat in a bar with friends, having a beer, thinking we had bags of time before he landed – and we could see his projected landing spot. His wife and rest of the group were on the beach waiting for kebabs and cocktail slushes to be delivered to their sunbeds (delightful cocktail slushes, I might add. Tried one a bit later.)
The next minute, we saw one of our bikini-clad group hurtling along the promenade looking completely unprepared. Oh, oh, oh, he must be landing. In that split second where we realised what was happening and tried to scrabble belongings together, take a last swig of drink and look for a waiter to hand some money to all at the same time, he glided past the bar and to his landing spot.
We’d missed his approach and his wife had run towards another landing area…and husband glided straight over the top of her head! She managed to get a quick snap, we completely missed any photo opportunity at all, but, luckily for our birthday man, he’s got photos and video of his flight from the company he flew with! Good job he didn’t rely on his not-so-reliable mates for his 40th birthday paragliding memories!
Sunset Chill Out
Anyway, all good in the end. As the sun lowered in the sky, we moseyed on along to the bean bags on the beach. We took our chill out places to watch what we thought were the last few paragliders make their descent. The paramotors, trailing Turkish flags and images of Atatürk, traversed the shoreline, silhouetting against the setting sun. Wow, it was all just perfect!
The hang glider soared above us while the microlight headed out across the sea towards the orange glow on the horizon, returning closer to shore occasionally.
Eventually, the orange faded to yellow as the sun made way for darkness. And still the paragliders and parachutes filled the sky. Fuschia-coloured flares were set off intermittently so the pilots could see where to land.
A beautiful sight. A few stars coming into view, the moon climbing into view from behind the mountains, the twinkling lights from the bars and restaurants, the ripples of the sea. And eventually, the final chutes made their landing.
A perfect end to a perfect day…
A Fantastic International Ölüdeniz Air Games
The 2016 International Ölüdeniz Air Games have been a great success, not just because of the weather playing nicely but also because of the amount of organisation that has gone into the festival. Can’t even imagine what the logistics must be of getting so many pilots from so many countries to come along; transfers to the top of Babadağ, timing of displays and then all the other aviation that takes place, too.
And this year, the Ölüdeniz Air Games weren’t just in Belcekiz. People in Fethiye centre, along Çalış Beach and also in nearby Göcek were treated to parts of the event, too. As far as we’re concerned, the 2016 International Ölüdeniz Air Games have been the biggest and best to date. It’s a huge thanks to the organisers from us and we can’t wait to see what next year will bring…