While traveling constantly around the world it’s sometimes hard to choose the most beautiful place I’ve traveled to. After my trip to Cappadocia I will certainly have a clear answer if someone asks me this question in the future. One of the most beautiful places that I ever visited is certainly Cappadocia, Turkey. It’s very hard to describe what your eyes see at some point. Hundreds of balloons lined up in the sky like a most beautiful colorful decorations glued to the horizon in front of sun rising with colors that just seems unrealistic. I am convinced that those who experienced this even once will forever remeber it no matter where they travel and regardless of what they do in any part of the planet. This is the story of my unreal journey and yet when you add new world record in paragliding with great people the beauty of this trip simply goes to the highest possible level of the most beautiful trip ever.
In June 2015 a new world record in paragliding was set In Cappadocia, the Mecca of flying world and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey. Petar Loncar, the only Serbian acro paraglider, also participated in this event. In front of the largest audience in the air above the famous fairy chimneys, Loncar, along with paragliders Veselin Ovcharov from Bulgaria and Ondrej Prochazka from the Czech Republic, set a world record with a 126 triple loop sync.
We can easily describe Cappadocia like the rocky wonderland in the middle of Turkey. It represents a remarkable combination of the artistic splendor of nature and human ingenuity. Unusual rock formations that grow from the ground, undulating landscapes, mysterious underground cities and churches in the rocks make Cappadocia one of those destinations that you must visit at least once in a lifetime.
It is located in central Anatolia, only an hour flight by plane from Istanbul. It stretches over 80 square kilometers between three extinct volcanos. This geographical position contributed to the creation of unique phenomenon by which Cappadocia is famous in the world.
THE FAIRY CHIMNEYS
For thousands of years, while volcanoes were active due to frequent eruptions, lava and large amounts of white volcanic ash that is called tuff were deposited in the valleys of Cappadocia, and then the strong winds and rain, like hands of skillful sculptor, made boulders of irregular shape that seem to emerge from the ground. Because of its unusual structure they were called Peribacalari or the fairy chimneys. These “chimneys” are of various shapes and are often grouped together, sometimes even going to a height of 40 meters. These structures are extremely soft and fragile, which came useful for ancient inhabitants of Cappadocia because with the help of most primitive tools they carved themselves homes in the cured lava. In the lower parts of the caves they later made churches and chapels, and small openings which represent the lofts. Due to the huge tourist popularity of Cappadocia some of the rocks have been turned into hotels.
In addition to the interesting geographical position which practically determined the fate of this region, Cappadocia has a very interesting history.
COUNTRY OF GOOD HORSES
According to historical tales, this area of Turkey was inhabited in the sixth century BC. The name Cappadocia comes from the old Persian word Katpatuka which means the land of beautiful/good horses.
The walls of volcanic dust were ideal shelter for Christians fleeing from the Romans and so they began to inhabit Cappadocia in the second century. Just like the ancient inhabitants of the area they too engraved churches, chapels and monasteries in the stone fairy chimneys. Many of these churches are decorated with frescoes of medieval saints which, although faded, still are visible on the walls today like wraiths. In Cappadocia was discovered 38 underground cities and more than 600 churches and monasteries, which are the most famous attractions that tourists visit. The largest part of these underground cities and churches are located in the town of Goreme, which became a national park and open-air museum. Because of the unique and natural architectural sights this town is listed on the UNESCO cultural heritage since 1985.
All these facts are more than enough reasons for tourists from all over the world to come to explore the mystique of Cappadocia.
Responding to the tourist demands, the tourist organizations in Turkey have organized a variety of expeditions and sightseeing tours of Cappadocia. One person is responsible for sightseeing from flying balloons. Back in the nineties an American came to Cappadocia and after he completely fell in love with its beauty he decided to stay there. Wishing to see all its charms from a bird’s eye perspective, he shipped from America first flying balloon that soars above the fairy chimneys. This adventure was interesting to a large number of tourists and ideal conditions for ballooning that is offered by the region determined this kind of sightseeing to become a real tourist attraction.
Weather conditions in Cappadocia provide the ability to fly for 300 days a year, which is more than fascinating, given that, in other areas of the world even the 60-day flying timeframe is considered a major achievement. This is precisely the reason why every morning in Cappadocia before sunrise there are 150 balloons with 2,500 tourists ready for takeoff.
For people whose lifestyle is flying, Cappadocia is an ideal location for outstanding achievements.
THE WORLD RECORD IN PARAGLIDING
Among those people who are most of the time in the clouds are paragliders Petar Loncar, Veselin Ovcharov and Ondrej Prochazka who printed new pages in the history of paragliding in Cappadocia. The idea for the project emerged last year, and prior to setting the world record in the triple sync loops, which are one of the hardest figures in acro paragliding, there was eight months of hard work and planning.
Upon arrival in Cappadocia, the team had two days for test jumps, while the third day was reserved for extraordinary trick attempt. The conditions for flying were perfect, and the civil aviation gave the green flag for takeoff just before five o’clock in the morning. Although tourism balloons fly at an altitude of 1,500 meters, for this project it was necessary to go all the way up to the 3,500 meters, which is the end limit permitted to fly.
Peter, Veselin and Ondrej jumped from a balloon at an altitude of 3,000 meters and during the following 2,000 meters they managed to perform 126 triple loop syncs, while large audience supported them while watching such event in the air for the first time.
“Flying in the team is very challenging because in addition to performing specific figures synchronized with other members, the concentration must be directed to their position as well because there is no room for the slightest error. On top of that come the forces that are achieved during the loops, and they go up to 7G. Flying with friends is a great feeling, and when such experience you can share with a large audience in the air for the first time, then it’s even better. We wanted to enter the history by setting a new world record and fly between the air balloons and we succeeded. This experience I will remember for the rest of my life”, said Loncar who has an impressive flying career.
He is the national record holder for the longest paragliding flight of nine hours, and with team-mate Vesa he holds the world record in infinity sync loops (181), and has over 70 BASE jumps. He is the first Serbian athlete who has flown at an altitude of 6,800 meters without oxygen mask.