Yesterday we walked on water; today we flew without wings. Not bad for a couple of days in Canada.
Ever since we saw a Mythbusters episode where they did indoor skydiving we’ve wanted to try it out. Basically you take an enormous fan, point it upwards and then jump on top. It’s a vertical wind tunnel with wind speeds of between 150 and 300 kmh pushing you upwards. It’s billed as skydiving, and skydivers use it to practice their moves, but given that you’re not really falling it’s more like flying or anti-gravity in my opinion.
Our visit started with a briefing on how to assume the appropriate position for our flight and what the instructor’s hand-signals would mean. Thanks to the incredible rushing sound of the air, hand-signals are the only way of communicating. Practicing the position on a chair was somewhat less than dignified but gave us a fair idea of what to do. Then we put on coveralls, inserted earplugs and donned goggles and helmets.The end result had us looking remarkably like rebel pilots out of Star Wars.
Then it was into the pressurised waiting area just outside the wind tunnel. The fan starts up and the first person stands in the doorway. At a signal from the instructor you let yourself fall forward and stretch out your arms. The incredible wind catches you and starts to waft you upwards. At first it’s hard to get a feel for where you need to place yourself, but it only takes seconds to get a rough idea.
The first flight is just to get your bearings. A second flight allows you to get higher and move around a little more. Then the instructor holds on to you and the wind tunnel is cranked up to full speed. Suddenly rather than bobbing around between the floor and about 2m high you are hurled up towards the ceiling. A slight change in position and you’re zooming Superman-like towards the floor. It was an incredible rush and really felt like flying.
Sadly there was no way to take photos as we were all doing the flights one after the other. Though, somehow I don’t think we’ll forget this experience in a hurry…