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.
These days, whilst the Ölüdeniz Air Games are taking place we have a sizeable mob of friends and their friends holidaying in Fethiye.
They’ve worked out that October is a great time to be in Turkey!
If the weather behaves for us, what better than a day in Ölüdeniz, looking up at the sky, beer in hand, marvelling at the colours, patterns and swirls being created by the pilots taking part.
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.
On occasion, 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.
But, for the most part, the Air Games are a great end of season boost for the area.
A Great Turn Out For The Air Games
It’s always great to see so many people in the bars and restaurants along Belcekiz Beach so late in the season.
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’re witnessing in the sky – who the pilot is, their nationality, the moves they’re performing.
It’s not all about the paragliders, either, at the International Ölüdeniz Air Games.
Anyone who knows the Fethiye area will know we’re no strangers to the odd paramotor cruising a few metres above the shorelines around the coast.
At the Air Games, it’s always a treat to watch the paramotor formation teams – flags trailing below them – cruise the length of the beach before heading out to the bay and making their return.
Motorised hang gliders join in the spectacle, too.
Programme Of Events
When you go to the Ölüdeniz Air Game there’s usually a programme of events posted somewhere so you at least have some idea of what you are witnessing in the sky above – and around you.
Remote control aeroplanes fly low and dodge around passersby.
The formation paramotor team often make an appearance at sunset – perfect lighting as their silhouettes glide across the bay.
For us, we usually just let the other events happen around us. It really doesn’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, at certain times of day, parachutes of skydivers!
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 boost for the paragliding companies who specialise in giving tourists the paragliding experience.
What better time of year to paraglide from the summit of Babadağ then when you are sharing the sky with some of the world’s top pilots?
A few descend solo, performing tumbles and swirls as they approach land. Others make their descent in formation, gliding close together and performing acrobatics.
Impressive and heart-in-mouth all at the same time as you watch them head towards land and sea.
Türk Yıldızları – Turkish Stars
If we’re very lucky, the International Ölüdeniz Air Games is occasionally blessed with a visit by the Türk Yıldızları.
These guys are the Turkish Air Force’s display team and there’s always much excitement and anticipation if their visit is announced.
If Türk Yıldızları do attend the Ölüdeniz Air Games, their main display is usually performed along Çalış Beach – something to bear in mind if you’re ever in town for the Air Games.
The idea is to bring the whole town in on the event rather than purely in Ölüdeniz.
The last time Türk Yıldızları visited us all, it wasn’t so much anticipation and excitement as worry that the display wouldn’t happen at all.
Like we said above, when the October weather is in a good mood, everything is perfect.
But sometimes, the autumnal storms appear right at the worst possible time.
Fortunately, we do sometimes get a break in these storms and that gave a window for Türk Yıldızları to make their move and for the spectators to brave the elements.
So don’t forget, if you are in Fethiye for the International Ölüdeniz air Games, some events happen elsewhere around the area.
But let’s get back to Ölüdeniz.
Sunset Chill Out
Because, as the sun lowers in the sky, it’s time to take your chill out places to watch the last few paragliders make their descent.
The paramators traverse the shoreline and all is perfect.
The hang glider soars above while the microlight heads out across the sea towards the orange glow on the horizon, returning closer to shore occasionally.
Eventually, the orange fades to yellow as the sun makes way for darkness.
And still the paragliders and parachutes fill the sky. Fuschia-coloured flares are set off intermittently so the pilots can 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 make their landing.
A perfect end to a perfect day…
A Fantastic International Ölüdeniz Air Games
The International Ölüdeniz Air Games are a great success, not just because of the weather playing nicely but also because of the amount of organisation that goes into the festival.
We 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 of the other aviation activities that take place, too.
It’s a huge thanks to the organisers from us and we can’t wait to see what each year will bring.
(The 2023 Ölüdeniz Air Games will run from Wednesday 18th October through to Sunday 22nd October. Events will take place around Belcekiz Beach in Ölüdeniz).