Beyşehir – Second phase of XC Paragliding Tour

Beyşehir – Second phase of XC Paragliding Tour

Our program would be taking us to XC paragliding event once more on Sunday. However, we were to meet with Beate whom we knew from West Virginia Ranch. We knew that she was taking a group of riders to İbradi uplands.

Beate organizes 7 day horse riding adventures starting from her ranch and covering uplands of Taurus' twice a year. We had agreed to meet at Kargıhan Caravanserai their destination for the day. Indeed, the space behind the fortifications of Kargıhan Caravanserai was the perfect spot for the riders to pitch their tents for overnight stay.

We drove on D 400 towards Antalya until we reached Köprülü Canyon / Selge turn off. We took a right turn here and took another right turn at Taşağıl. All you have to do is to follow the road signs after there soon you will be at Kargıhan. Just before we reached the meeting point, we caught up with the riding party on the narrow road to the Caravanserai. Good timing indeed! So we had a few minutes to prepare fort the arrival of the riding party. Beate had already pitched the tents in the inner court, gathered wood for the fire and stocked water, all with the help of her assistants.

Finally the riding party arrived; tired and worn out. It was not a surprise when one considers the day’s program. The group’s entry into the courtyard resembled a ritual and one could easily imagine the days when trade caravans made the same entrance from the same spot. They too had long and tiring days of riding and reached the security of the caravanserai at dusk. I bet the riders in the group also imagined themselves in the days long bygone. Subsequently, the horses were unsaddled, both the rider and the horse were fed. Wishing them a good journey, we left them to their peace and drove off for Beyşehir. We followed the road where the riders would be taking the next day. A dusty and rocky track snaking up towards Başlar was the next leg of our journey. From there we passed through Derebucak, Üstünler and finally reached Beyşehir. We had driven through uplands with diverse views at an altitude of 2.000 meters, passed the sides of Akdağ Mountain and suddenly reached the sleepy Beyşehir Lake. Accommodation had been arranged for us at the Teacher’s Lodge at the outskirts of the city center by the lake. 

XC Paragliders had not arrived at the accommodation yet because a daily tour of Cappadocia, a “Whirling Dervishes” show and dinner was awaiting them. We met the Para gliders the next morning at breakfast. About 10.00 am. We made our way to “Yaka” picnic grounds, which had been arranged by the Council of Beyşehir as take off point. Following a welcoming talk by the mayor İzzet Taşçı, the group leader and a few XC participants’ preparations began. The council had arranged a water tank (an important point for pilots; they need to carry dead freight in case of change of weather), food, drinks and music fort he participants. The team appointed to pick up the pilots from their landing points was set and ready to go on their pickups. In fact, the only thing missing was the wind, the all important factor for a successful flight. As midday neared, the thermals began to permit first joy rides and some of the pilots had the opportunity to show off their perfectly artistic abilities amid strong winds at times. 

As was the case when we first met, we had lots of opportunities to talk with the pilots about the details on their technical equipment, official permits and safety licenses. We also had the chance to examine the route descriptions and follow the flight routes of individual pilots over the satellite navigation devices. We were told that depending on the arrangement made by the pilot, the satellite device makes regular calculations and therefore the route is determined on the basis of calculated points, information on altitude, distances and time involved are relayed. As such, each pilot has the upper hand in follow up and control of daily flight capacity. The team leadership has a similar device and is able to calculate the distance at the landing point. That way, the pilot who flies furthest and therefore is the winner is determined. 

The weather condition got better in the afternoon and trial runs towards long distance flight began. We were looking forward to see the first pilot who could find the best thermal. Of course, despite all the latest technology utilized and the weather reports, a pilot still relies mostly on personal instincts and past experience.

19.30 that night, all was over and all participants met at dinner once more.

The following day was much the same in that international participants tried many take offs and landings, busied themselves with land based exercises and of course engaged in lively conversations with those present, until my partner decided to see it for herself and experience a tandem flight with French pilot Fabrice Helmbacher. She was briefed by the pilot about what is to come and the technical equipment was checked together with organizatör. Subsequently, armed with a camera so as to catch a few instants from above, off they flew. Back on land safely, dearest Seher was happy as a clam at high tide! That is to say, a new enthusiast had been recruited. Of course we will see what the future has on show for her.

The plan for the next day was to meet the mayor at his office. The flight schedule would resume after the visit. Pilots and technical personnel were met by the mayor İzzet Taşçı. What ensued were question-answer style conversations on development proposals, suburban pollution and of course the sustainability of ever striking natural beauties around. The mayor was happy to promise his full support and underlined the fact that the learning process about environmental cleanliness is not fully completed in Turkey. In the mean time of course, we were fed with cups after cups of freshly made tea. The meeting ended by the mayor giving small presents to the pilots and having a group photo taken.

Rest of the day was time for work for us for we took numerous photos of pilots taking off. Soon after it was time to go and we took off for Alanya. Unfortunately, duty sometimes calls out loud but, this was to be a short term separation for we were going to meet the XC Paragliding group the next day; our destination would be Tahtalı Mountains.

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