500 paragliders descend on Ölüdeniz festival
500 paragliders performed about 4,000 jumps in just five days at the 9th Ölüdeniz Air Jumping Festival.
The gathering started Wednes-day and ended Sunday with a special parachute show. Festival organizer Kadri Tuğlu told the Anatolia news agency that aside from some small problems, there were no parachute accidents.
“Following orders from Muğla Governor Ahmet Altıparmak, safety precautions were taken, and we had an ambulance constantly on hand,” he said. The event was also successful in promoting the region. “This festival contributed to getting out more information about Ölüdeniz, Fethiye, Muğla and Turkey,” he said. “We expect at least 600 paragliders to come and join in the parachute festival we’ll be holding in 2009.”
Ölüdeniz Mayor Keramettin Yılmaz said Ölüdeniz has become known for hill paragliding. “This was the ninth festival of this type this year,” he said. “Paragliders now head to Ölüdeniz after the air jumping festival in France. Actually, there is nowhere in the world that you can even compare to here when it comes to geographical makeup, the jumping course and the natural beauty.”
Yılmaz said the goal was to become No. 1 in the region for paragliders. “All of our work is headed in this direction,” he said. “We began the Ölüdeniz international air dance festival in 1989, and every day, we are headed further in this direction.
“Even university students are beginning to take an interest in this sport. This year, 500 athletes from 14 different nations came to our festival, and of all these, around 160 were professional athletes. I hope that both those who come to our city for sports and those who come simply for holidays have a wonderful time here.”
He continued: “This is normally quite a safe sport. But it muse take place within the framework of rules. There are tandem paragliding jumps that take place every year, with around 35,000 people a year jumping, from the 1,800-meter-high Mt. Babadağ peak. And so far, we have never had an accident. The people who have accidents are generally those who jump on their own, novices or people who jump in bad weather and don’t take enough precautions.”