This was a surprise challenge. I was woken up on the Saturday before my birthday with a card from my two children and these pictures:
The card announced that in the afternoon we would be going indoor skydiving at iFLY. I’m not going to lie, I was more than a little apprehensive. I was also very surprised that my youngest was so excited about doing it- he’s normally a bit nervous about anything adventerous.
When we arrived everyone was shown into a small room where James, our instructor, demonstrated how to position ourselves in the wind tunnel and what all the hand signals meant. We were also shown a short video of very happy people with perfect hair having a go, and getting it right first time. One of the ladies in the video was wearing a summer dress. Funnily enough, we never saw her in the wind tunnel.
Next we got to put on our heavy duty jumpsuits, ear plugs, helmets and goggles. I now understood why Rob had told me it wasn’t worth going to the hairdressers for my birthday. Once everyone was kitted out, we headed up to the observation deck. There were already quite a few people watching the previous group in the tunnel so it was a bit of a squeeze. It was both fun and daunting watching them as they had clearly done it before.
iFLY offer a range of different packages and we were on a family deal. This allows you 10 minutes of flying for up to 5 people. Although this meant we would only get 2 minutes of actual flying time, physically, I could not have done anymore.
It is incredibly noisy in the tunnel and you are entirely relying on your instructor to stop you disappearing up, or out of, the tunnel. I’m sure people with more experience can manage this sort of control themselves, but that was definitely not me. The wind is so strong that your face begins to resemble well pummelled play dough and it requires a lot of effort to keep your arms and legs outstretched (you should also prepare yourself for some excesses chin drool). I can definitely see why you’re not allowed to do it if you’ve ever dislocated your shoulder.
However, all that aside, it is so much fun! You really do feel like you’re flying. Everybody got to have a 1 minute try, come out and then go back in again. There was nothing graceful about anyone’s first go. We all looked like we were being thrown around in a giant washing machine. It was also nice to have such a lot of strangers stare at us throughout the experience. My Dad compared it to an execution chamber. Thankfully the excessive wind made us all look like we were really pleased regardless.
Our second turns were a lot more successful. At one point I went really high and I loved it. I can absolutely see how people get addicted and want to come back to try more things and push themselves further. I think my favourite moment was when James spun the kids around as they were flying. Their faces were perfect!
At the end of the session James went back into the tunnel to demonstrate what can be done if you actually know what you are doing. He ran up walls, went upside down, spun all the way up, fell to the ground, hovered. He even flew through the exit door at the end. Both my children would now like to be able to do all of it.
I personally do not want to jump out of an aeroplane but I would love to go back and learn how to do some more indoor skydiving. It’s also made me really want to look into paragliding…