Valentin Delluc takes flight among Cappadocia’s iconic balloon festival
Watch as Valentin Delluc trades in snow and skis for sand and sneakers in a speedflying session that saw him undertake a magical ride above Cappadocia in Turkey.
In case you're confused, let us clear things up for you: that's not technically a parachute at the beginning of the video and this isn't exactly skydiving, even though Valentin Delluc does jump out of a hot air balloon basket.
The sport is speedflying, and the 'speed' part is important. In canopy sports, where the lift is provided by a non-rigid wing, speed means stability and precision. The downside? Your reflexes had better be on point.
Cappadocia is primarily known for two things: the magical landscape – towering chimneys made of volcanic rock – and the annual Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Festival. Held every July, hundreds of hot air balloon enthusiasts from all over the world descend on this remote corner of Turkey. Since they need calm air, typically the ballooning starts early – making for incredible scenery in the morning light.
While it all looks nice and calm, for Delluc – known for his incredible adventures in his home of Avoriaz, France – this flight wasn’t easy. Compared to his normal launch off a ski slope in the Alps, this was slightly more technical. He had to start from a balloon platform, at 2,600m above the ground, and jump into potentially swirling winds.
“This had never been done before and it could’ve gone from good opening to bad opening very quickly,” says Delluc. “The wind up there was very aggressive and my wings could’ve collapsed. That’s why I had a backup system with a parachute and cut-away system specially made for this project.”
The high-altitude take-off gave him the chance to share the air with a few (much larger) friends – bouncing off balloons like trampolines and playing slalom in the skies. It also gave him the airspace to try something new: a double barrel roll, something never seen on film. Following the high-altitude aerial artistry, Delluc descended into the landscape, giving us an up-close view of the incredible region.
The hardest part of the whole thing was finding the right moment, explains project director Etienne Merel. "Every day was a new adventure because we couldn’t really know how the wind would be and if Val would be able to fly. A lot of days, we were ready to shoot on set, waiting for better conditions for hours.
This is a landscape that you cannot see anywhere else in the world
"Sometimes we went to the hotel with no shot, but even if we had to wake up every morning at 5am, seeing all the balloons in the sky, all the landscape, it was just beautiful. Making this project into reality and being in Cappadocia was fantastic.”
For Delluc, it was a chance to see and do something different – and it's one project he’ll never forget. “This was a different flight than I am used to – it required more technique. I had to think very fast and in a short time about everything and had to control my energy,” he says.
“But I loved it. From the air, Cappadocia has an amazing view. This is a landscape that you cannot see anywhere else in the world.”
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