Air Games Festival for Blue Skies Mag

Blue Skies Mag #39

Mike Steen ready to land on January 2013 issue of Blue Skies Mag

There are pros and cons of being a (rather nomadic) freelance photojournalist.
The pros are great though, and sometimes they include meeting and cooperating with people awesome enough to be action movie characters, like Annette Lyn O’Neil, and her gang.
She would probably be a common person, if it wasn’t for her head and the many talents that made it ginger. To have such a skilled professional considering and requesting your work to illustrate hers is an achievement by itself. To be part of a selected group of crazy people for some days is a goal worth of working hard for. And the only regret, of not having been able to closely follow Brett Kistler and Jamie Flynn, is a very good reason to try to do it again.

Games in the Air at Ölüdeniz

The 13th Ölüdeniz Air Games Festival

The 13th Ölüdeniz Air Games Festival

Paragliding is amazing.
I thought I knew it was a relatively safe way to fly and enjoy a dream come true.
I also thought I knew that skydiving was something exciting and quite dangerous, as well as hang-gliding.
I was wrong in all of these cases.
After witnessing crazy acrobatic paragliders stunts, and the spirited, mind boggling deeds of B.A.S.E. jumpers, and having photographed the landing of speed riders on a crowded beach, I had a different opinion. Paragliding can be as crazy as the people performing it, and regular skydiving is a quiet, peaceful sport, compared to its more extreme variation. Also, hang gliders are regular guys if seen from the perspective of speed riders, parachutists topping 140 km/h speeds.
But Ölüdeniz 13th Air Games Festival was not only a gathering of people eager to stick their (middle) fingers into the Reaper’s eyes.
Hundreds of peaceful paragliding single and tandem pilots have colored the sky of one of the most beautiful places in Southern Turkey, taking off from the 1600 m high Mt. Babadag, and landing on the seaside, that even in October was as inviting as a tropical beach.
The festival is the outcome of Kadri Tuglu’s and Ali Sonat’s dream, when the two friends came to Ölüdeniz to open their Cloud 9 Restaurant Bar on the beach. Fifteen years later, their bar is the meeting point of air sports lovers, while the festival is a five days long non stop party, in the air, on the mountain, on the beach.
Watching jumpers drinking and chatting in Cloud 9, laughing loud at videos showing what they call their mistakes, and I would call horrific bone shattering accidents, says a lot about them, and about human nature.
Because, in spite of anything, the temptation to join them is irresistible…