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Selçuk Efes Airport raises tourists to new heights

SELÇUK, İzmir – Hürriyet Daily News | 10/11/2010 12:00:00 AM | CHARLOTTE OSKAY

The priority of Selçuk Efes Airport is to create an awareness of air activities, both for career purposes and as a hobby. Experts at the airport can instruct students in both commercial and private aircraft flying

Selçuk Efes Airport has developed a list of adrenalin-pumping activities since beginning operations in 1993, including microlight flights, skydiving-parachuting and training for flying both private and commercial aircraft.

The Turkish Aeronautical Association, or THK, is a non-profit organization which aims to promote air-related activities in Turkey. Founded in 1925 by the first president and founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the THK organization was initially known as the Turkish Aeroplane Society. One of the society’s earliest graduates and greatest aviators was Atatürk’s own adopted daughter, Sabiha Gökçen, who received instruction at the Türkkuşu training center and THK headquarters based in Ankara.

The Selçuk Efes Airport is a member of the THK, located in Selçuk near the tourist port of Kuşadası, 83 kilometers south of the city of İzmir. The airport is situated close to the ruins of Ephesus, one of the largest and most well-preserved of the 12 Ionian cities. The vast Ephesus amphitheater can be seen from the entrance to the main airport building.

“Our main priority is creating awareness of air activities, for either career purposes or as a hobby,” said the airport’s assistant manager, Murtaza Turan. “We instruct in both commercial and private aircraft flying. We offer an 18-month course which covers 14 stages of flight, including theory based and practical instruction. After passing this course students have the opportunity to build a career in commercial flying. Many of our students now fly for Turkish Airlines. Another course which focuses on teaching private aircraft flying with a maximum weight of 5,700 kilos, takes a lot less time and costs 10,000 euros, a lot less than the commercial course which is 50,000 euros.”

The aviation courses are licensed by the Sivil Havacılık Genel Müdürlüğü, or Directorate of Civilian Aviation. Along with career orientated professional instruction, the center offers hobby-based activities such as microlight flying and tandem parachuting.

Tandem parachuting (amateur skydiving from 12,000 feet while attached to a professional instructor) has become a popular activity for both Turkish visitors and also foreign tourists. It’s estimated that the center facilitates 10,000 jumps per year, and the number is only increasing. Tourists around the region are being made aware of air sport opportunities through foreign tour operators, though the center currently doesn’t work with any specific agency, Turan said.

“Working for financial gain is not a priority. Our facilities are open to everyone, tourists included, but we have yet to specifically promote our facilities to tourists, though it’s currently being considered,” he said.

The center’s experienced instructors speak English, enabling English-speaking tourists to confidently participate in a variety of activities. The center offers instruction to gain parachuting certificates, including beginner and advanced level qualifications regulated and issued by the AFF, a worldwide regulating body. The AFF certified beginner solo parachute course consists of 10 days’ instruction, including four-day theory on the ground, one tandem flight and two solo flights made from a height of 12,000 feet. All descents are recorded so that instructors can evaluate the students’ progress.

The solo AFF certificate is recognized worldwide and enables the holder to skydive anywhere throughout the world. The AFF solo advanced certificate requires students to make approximately 10 solo jumps, again while being filmed, and once obtained, enables the holder to skydive with their own equipment.

The Selçuk Efes Airport’s fortunate location close to one of the regions longest and prettiest stretches of coastline and the close proximity of Ephesus and St. John’s Castle have been successfully exploited with the option of microlight flights. 

Microlights are light aircraft with small efficient engines that offer either single-seat or dual-seat options. The Selçuk Efes Airport microlight aircraft are based on the weight-shifting principles of hang gliders: The wings are maneuvered manually in order to control and manipulate the airflow. Visitors can purchase a 30-minute flight with an experienced pilot who will leisurely tour the ancient city of Ephesus and surrounding coastal area. 

Some of these activities have health and weight limitations and most aren’t available to children as young as 12, but the center in conjunction with the THK offer schools and other organizations the chance for students to learn about aviation first hand. 

Week-long courses in airplane design and model building offer the perfect opportunity for kids to develop an interest in aviation. These courses can be arranged via 450 branches countrywide. 

Turan said developing an interest in aviation and air-based activities was the center’s primary goal.

“The center’s main objective is to motivate and teach people about aviation and other air activities, without profit being a prime consideration. We’re currently developing these activities and have started to work with international organizations including hosting skydiving groups from the Middle East,” said Turan. 

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[HH] Multipurpose airport: Selçuk Efes

The Selçuk Efes Airport can accept private internal flights departed from any airport within Turkey as long as prior notification is given. A minimum of one hour is required during working hours; four hours’ notification is required outside normal working hours. 

High-profile visitors to the Selçuk Efes Airport have included Hilary Clinton and Bernie Ecclestone. The airport also acts as a key location for aerial firefighting and crop spraying within the district. The Selçuk Efes Airport belongs to The Turkish Aeronautical Association, or THK, and is located in Selçuk, 83 kilometers south İzmir.

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[HH] Costs and training fees

Airport assistant manager Murtaza Turan said there were various options for visitors looking for an experience in aviation.

The Selçuk Efes Airport aviation course for commercial airliners costs 50,000 euros. This includes tuition and license fee. However, a 40-percent cash deposit is required at enrolment with the final payments being met in monthly installments. Tandem skydiving-parachuting costs 300 Turkish Liras and this includes full insurance and tuition. There’s an option of being filmed during the jump for an extra 100 liras. The airport can also provide private flight tours and trips to other locations around Turkey. Prices range between 400 liras and 3,000 liras for private flights ranging from 30 minutes to return one-hour trips. 

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