Flying means being part of life and living life to the fullest. Therefore, it is at the top of the list of things to do before death. Paragliding is the sport of people who ask questions like “What can I do at the weekend, how can I set aside time for myself to deal with the stress of life easier”.
It is the sport of those who prefer to be in touch with nature instead of being in crowded and stressful environments and who prefer to avoid negative environments and have a nice time with people who have the same tastes. It is certain that those who are new to the paragliding will add a new dimension to their lifestyle and will rediscover many things by constantly gaining new experiences.
What Kind Of Sport Is Paragliding?
Paragliding is the most popular air sport in recent years. Since you are not inside any aircraft, it is the aviation branch where you can experience the feeling of flying most intensely. It can be performed by thousands of men and women of all ages and groups at any season of the year. Only with sports, you can enjoy soaring like birds in nature, a bird’s eye view of the earth, and touching the clouds. Paragliding is not a model of parachute sport performed by jumping off the plane. The athletes run and take off from the mountains and hills suitable for this sport with the necessary equipment. With its aerophile structure, the paraglider is an air vehicle with which you can plan take off, landing and flight; you can stay in the air for hours and go hundreds of kilometers away.
Parachutist or Pilot?
Maybe this question has come to your mind before. Why are people using paragliders called pilots? Because the paragliding pilot takes most of the technical flight classes that pilots of other aircraft such as helicopters or aircraft do. Just like them, they get this title by going through challenging exams and tests. The way to travel from one city to another by paragliding, which is commonly known as an entertainment sport, is only possible by having this knowledge and equipment. Speaking of long distance flights; the world record for paragliding is 572 kilometers and the pilot stayed in the air for 11 hours. The record in Turkey is 348 kilometers and the pilots had to land early on the ground when their flights were approached to the Syrian border. Only a person who knows advanced meteorology, aerodynamics, navigation and flight techniques can achieve such flights and deserve to be a pilot.
How Is Paragliding Done?
Paragliders have some advantages that other aircraft do not have. They easily take off, are directed and land; they can be opened and packed in a few minutes. With a proper training, basic flight control skills can be gained in a few days. Thanks to its lightness and small size, you can easily carry it and climb to the departure point without the need of any road, airport or other facility, and can easily take off even from mountains without roads. Today, the branches of paragliding are distance flight, tandem, trike, paramotor, climb-fly, target and aerobatic flights.
Before the flight, planning is made thanks to the meteorological forecasts of modern era. Thanks to the planning, you prepare yourself for the flight performance of the day. For example, if the distance flight conditions are predicted, you prepare your food, beverage, walking stick and equipment and go to the departure point. The most enjoyable part of the distance flight is that you do not know how much you will fly, where you will land and who you will encounter. For any pilot who makes distance flight, this uncertainty is a source of concern, anxiety and fear; it is an adventure and discovery. Maybe you need to come back with a tractor or with a truck driver. While you tell your adventures to this curious listener on your way back, you will experience them all again. The most well-known form of this sport is tandem flight. Tandem is made with wing big enough to carry two people and spare parachute. The flight is carried out after the passenger and pilot harnesses are connected to the wing with a stabilization system. Weight limits and flight aerodynamics are specially designed. Today, it is used in flight technique trainings and commercial flights. Tandem passengers do not need any special knowledge, they can participate in the flight after a short briefing by the pilot. Since tandem flight does not require a long and technical training process, it allows everyone to enjoy this sport and enjoy the flight.
In The Sport Of Paragliding Age And Gender Differences
Although women were among the first to practice paragliding, the number of women in this sport has gradually decreased. Perhaps, as a wrong idea, it can be perceived as if women are physically unable to do this sport. However, they even have some advantages on men in terms of seeing things from a wider perspective and feeling thermals better. I think they need a little more encouragement. Today, it is also possible to see women flying for miles, piloting and instructing tandem and acrobatics, and placing in competitions. To grow the popularity of this sport, the number of female paragliding athletes should increase. In paragliding, one of the main concerns is undoubtedly the security. As it is a sport performed very high above the ground by nature, “Can I have an accident” is the first question in the minds of the beginners. The danger of paragliding is less than the dangers we may face when driving in traffic, skiing or playing football. Continuous learning and self-improvement in this sport will both reduce potential risks and help us achieve our goals. Although the videos of paragliding accidents shared on the internet and social networks create the impression that this sport is dangerous, the objective reality is full of information that will increase our courage to start.
Paragliding In Turkey
Thanks to the mountainous structure and suitable climate, our country has very favorable conditions for practice. The most popular paragliding place known in our country is Öludeniz in the district of Fethiye. Tens of thousands of local and foreign people are paragliding every year in Babadağ, which is 1969 meters high, and experience flying. There are mostly commercial tandem flights in Ölüdeniz. Due to the structure of the region, which is quite suitable for this sport, there is misinformation that the paragliding in our country is made only in Ölüdeniz. In fact, in almost all regions, provinces and districts, there are suitable areas for paragliding. For example, thousands of pilots and clubs are doing this sport in many cities such as Ankara Ayaş, Kayseri, Denizli, Adana, İzmir, Sakarya, Eskişehir, Kahramanmaraş, Tekirdağ.
Time To Meet The Sky
The passion of the human beings for adventure and adrenaline has always led them to dream of flying freely. The first step that can be taken not to postpone our flight dreams and not to say “I wish I had tried” is to start paragliding. The priority of people of modern times is to achieve happiness and to have mental and physical health. Paragliding is standing in front of us as a very unique sport that offers all these. We recommend you to plan your first flight now and take the first step in this freedom. Pay attention to the roads on your first trip with your vehicle, pick up a hitchhiking parachutist and start listening to their adventures. Hope to see you in the sky.
Where The First Paragliding Sport Was Performed In The World?
The first inventor of the paragliding is “David Barish” who was working at NASA. In 1965, David took off from the hills with his parachute prototype he invented for the safe landing of space capsules, and threw the first idea of this sport. On June 25, 1978, members of the parachute club d’Anemasse (Haute-savoie, France) began flying tests with their parachutes from the Mieussy Perthuiset in the Alps. In Switzerland, the “Ailes de K” company produced the first industrial paraglider, “La Randonneuse”, in 1985.
Paragiding In Turkey
In Turkey, the first flight tests by running down the slope were made in 1985 with free fall parachutes in Erzincan, Çakırman. Since 1990, Ölüdeniz Babadağ has become known for paragliding and flights of foreign athletes. Founded in 1991, METU Aerospace Society is the first club established in this field in Turkey. In 1996, THK started the paragliding branch and the first official trainings began.
The best paragliding pilot is the one who makes this sport healthfully for long time and minimizes risks by increasing his/her meteorology and material knowledge and experiences. Flight safety, pilot ability, technical competence and safe equipment are essential to minimize the risks. As a result, paragliding, like all other sports, is safe when performed within rules and limits.
What Is The Cost?
Is it expensive to start this sport? Initially, there is a training cost of only 1,500-2,000 TL. The economic life of the materials varies between 3 and 10 years depending on the use. The price of the full set flight equipment (wing, harness, spare parachute, radio, helmet, variometer, GPS) is between 12,000-18,000 TL. Of course, the high exchange rate of the euro in our country has increased the equipment prices. However, it is true that the happiness of flying freely in the sky cannot be measured materially. Moreover, in addition to the second-hand materials that can be purchased at an affordable price, there is an opportunity to benefit the materials of the aviation clubs only for the membership and material use fee.
By: Ertan Balkiraz / Photo: Necdet Çelik- Mustafa Öztürk
*This article was published in the July– August issue of Marmara Life.