Guide to SKOPJE

Flying Mendo

Extreme sports are a synonym for him. Unlike most adrenaline addicts he has a different theory of it. He is a pioneer in most of the extreme sports in Macedonia…Mendo Veljanovski

Is it still true that you have spent more time in the air, in water and on snow than on land?

– Yes, this information is still valid. I still spend more time in the air, in water and on snow, especially in the air. I feel much more comfortable in these three environments than on land.

Paragliding is gradually becoming a popular sport in Macedonia. What is the status of acro paragliding?

– Unfortunately, there are only few acro pilots in Macedonia. However, in the Alpine countries, and globally, there is a growing trend of this discipline. When I started doing this sport, two of my Austrian colleagues started at about the same time, and I am sure there are hundreds of acro pilots there now compared to the few here.

What does it take to become an acro pilot?

– Firstly, it takes a lot of time, because this discipline demands daily practice. You also need additional training, such as fitness, in order to strengthen the muscles. It is absolutely necessary in order to be able to endure the G-force that can reach up to 8G. Pilots in supersonic air force planes wear special, so-called anti-G suits, whereas in acrobatic paragliding we don’t wear such suits. It is compensated by strengthening the stomach muscles.

What does adrenaline mean to you?

– That is an interesting question. In the course of my career in extreme sports I have come to a conclusion that a huge adrenaline rush can be dangerous. That is why I have introduced some personal elements in my training courses. I believe in precise mastering of the technique. I analyze each movement and then look for a way to practice it in slow motion so as to perform it as an automatic psychomotor movement. If I feel adrenaline rush while performing a maneuver I take it as a sign that the movement is not completely mastered.

The 12th International Oludeniz Air Games took place in Oludeniz, Turkey this October and you have regularly participated for years. Tell us something more about the games and this year’s event.

– Oludeniz Air Games have been organized for 12 years now. I have participated since the beginning as a guest with acrobatic performances. What is specific about them is that they are noncompetitive. There are other world famous acrobatic pilots who are invited to participate and also all kinds of aircrafts take part in the games. This event is financed by the city of Fethiye mostly for the purpose of attracting tourists. Oludeniz is one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the world. Tourist workers profit mainly from paragliding tandem flights, and in general from paragliders who enjoy performing their acrobatic feats or simply flying and spending their holiday on the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Which extreme sports have been introduced in Macedonia thanks to you?

– Powered paragliding, paragliding, wind-surfing, snowboarding, speed riding, acrobatic paragliding, paraglider jumps from a helicopter, balloon and paramotoring.

You have been promoting speed riding as a winter sport in the past few years.

– Speed riding is a rather new sport which is a combination of skiing and flying. The small wing that is used enables you to perform acrobatic stunts at great speed. You can also ski down avalanches which makes this sport even more exciting. It is being slowly accepted in Macedonia, but it was the case with snowboarding too, and now it’s very popular.

Is there an extreme sport that you have not tried to do and is a kind of a challenge for you?

 – There are several extreme sports that I would like to try and one of them is especially attractive. It is jumping with a special suit from various aircrafts, but most frequently from high cliffs. Many people think it is the same as parachuting but it is completely different. The specially made suit enables the pilot to fly at great speed and steer with small movements of the arms. Still, in order to land you have to open a parachute because of the great flight speed.

Jordan Dukov