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…


A voyage in Time: sailing on “Kybele”

A voyage in time: sailing on a 6th century BCE ship

A voyage in time: sailing on a 6th century BCE ship

A sea voyage present challenges that are unchanged in time.
Yet, to sail as ancient mariners did 2600 years ago is a very different experience.

Of course, unlike them, that could only trust their pilot’s knowledge and the gods, we all have maps, compass, cellular phones, and have a rather exact idea of where we are and where are we going to. Coast Guard and rescue services are at hand in case of emergency, and even if we can’t control weather, we can plan our journey according to scientific forecasts, and do not need to resort to sacrifices to appease hostile deities (though sometimes we can be tempted to try…).

But modern people, used to live on modern yachts at sea with little difference from their daily life, can hardly imagine how such an experience can be .

It was probably very similar on the celebrated tall ships of the “Golden Age of Sailing”, now decorating posh living rooms, hanging on walls in prints or drawings showing them on full sail.

On full sail, but from afar, lest life conditions of crews be smelled from leeward.

Our voyage on “Kybele”, a bireme replica built and sailed by Professor Osman Erkurt, of “360° Research Group” of Urla (Izmir) in Turkey, was part of an Experimental Archaeology program.

Sailing in an open ship, crossing the Marmara sea from Istanbul to Foça, the ancient Phocea, is not like a cruise on a yacht. Even a mildly rough sea can be dangerous, fresh water is a luxurious good, no shower or toilet, hard work just to stay afloat and going, and living for days, not to say months, in a crowded environment, with no privacy, can be a tough, though exciting experience.
But it’s also a unique chance for a photographer, in spite of the stress for the equipment.

The whole Experimental Archaeology concept is based on such experiences, and “Kybele”‘s story, as told here, will go on, with or without photographers aboard.