Paragliding is something I have longed to do for as long as I can remember and I couldn’t think of a better place to do it than in Old Deniz where an average day can see 200 Paragliders.
I was picked up at 7 am and taken to a cafe on the beach where later, we would land. Once the full group had arrived and we had ‘signed our lives away’, we got on the minibus & were taken up to the top of the mountain.
Now, I’m not usually a squeamish person but, as the road up the mountain was the same width as the minibus, combined with a sheer drop either side, you could say some anxiousness set in.
To distract myself from mentally planning my own funeral I struck up a conversation with the Chinese woman to my right. I did most of the talking, trying to ignore the blank expression on her face.
We arrived after 45 minutes, where we all took it in turns to get suited and booted. We then made our way up some stairs to the jumping point which was a gravelly slope leading into nothing.
3 people took off at a time, one off the centre and 2 others off either side. After watching 8 successful take off’s it was now my turn to make my way over to the runway.
Stood on the right side waiting to take off, my heart was beating out of my chest. I kept asking Celal (my flying buddy) if my harness was too loose, as it kept falling down to my ankles. Although he kept reassuring me that it was fine, I was horrified that my blood supply wasn’t being restricted by the harness. I was waiting to jump off a mountain, relying on an incredibly loose piece of material to stop me from plummeting to my death.
There was a guy next to me kicking up the gravel and holding his hand out testing the air. He kept saying “no, not enough”. Celal and he talked amongst themselves in Turkish whilst I tried to calm my self down by focusing on my breathing.
I watched the girl next to me set off but instead of running she just sat down, so the pilot had to stop the take off just before they dropped off the edge. Then I watched whilst they scrambled back up the hill with the help of 5 other people. Celal grabbed me by the shoulder harness and said “Whatever you do, don’t sit!” My breathing exercises pretty much went out the window at that point!
I turned again, heart in my mouth, waiting to fly.
They kept on saying “no wind, no wind” and then all of a sudden a sharp “RUN RUN RUN” was sang in my ear by Celal. The shock of it all propelled me to run as fast as I could, which was pretty damn slow because of the weight of the parachute. We kicked off the ground and before I knew it we were in the air. I was so obsessed with not sitting, that I looked like a scarecrow taking off, stiff back & arms outstretched. Celal told me to relax and then promptly knee’d me in the backside to get me to sit down.
The wind rushed through my hair and a wave of ecstasy came over me. I felt so free. Ironic, as I was strapped to someone. Looking down at the blue water and the mountain tops were magical.
We soared over the hotel complexes which all looked so tiny. I kept blinking because the warm air was drying my eyes out, each time trying to open my eyes wider to try and take more of the scenery in. After gliding gently for a good 20 minutes, we did some twirls and loops that made it feel more like a roller coaster.
We came down to land near the beach. Swooping over the houses to land on a patch of greenery. We came down fast but at the very end we slowed down a little so the landing was very soft.
I stood bewildered for a moment whilst he detached himself from the harness. I ‘wowed’ enthusiastically. What a great experience. I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face. The feeling was just magical.
I spent the rest of the day sitting in the sun, drinking Pina Coladas and trying not to get face ache.
Where did I do it?
Who was my paragliding pilot?
Celal Yildiz- Celal_yildiztr@yahoo.com
How much was it?
How long in the air?
What to wear?
I wore a jumpsuit. There isn’t a strict dress code. Shorts and a t-shirt would have been fine.
Things to know
You can take your phone up to the top as the pilot has a pocket to put it in when flying and your bag you will leave at the bottom and collect after landing.
Even though you are up high it wasn’t cold at all.