Regular readers of my blog may recall that in 2015 (after much deliberation); I jumped out of a plane at 14,000 feet.
To be clear, it was a planned tandem skydive and I had a parachute, there was no mid-air emergency.
Anyway, since then I have been searching for an activity to match the adrenaline rush and extremely awesome buzz that I experienced that day. I’ve tried jet boating, aerobatics, ridden a pony (hey, it was wild for me), and abseiling 160 metres down the side of a skyscraper in Perth’s CBD. These were all a lot of fun, but not quite the adrenaline rush I was searching for.
Then I discovered indoor skydiving, would this be my holy grail?
For those who don’t know, wind tunnels (as they are known) were originally invented so that scientists could study aerodynamics. Until, someone decided they could also provide a great recreational activity and money could be made from it. The first person to try it was former Green Beret Jack Tiffany in 1964.
Initially skydiving instructors used them to practice skydiving and in the early 80’s they became available for the great unwashed (who can tell I’ve been Googling?),
They work by blasting a cylinder, (about 6 metres in diameter of air upward. The wind speed can be up to 3000km/h and the force of the wind is enough to hold you up.
I imagined that the tunnel would look a bit like the room where Charlie Bucket and Grandpa Joe drink the drink that makes them weightless in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It wasn’t. It looked to me to be more like a cross between a fish bowl and a cookie jar.
As I mentioned I loved my skydive, so I was keen for this too. That was until I remembered that the part of skydiving that I wasn’t particularly fond of (the freefall) is exactly what the wind tunnel simulates. Oh shit, I didn’t really think this through.
I did my training and suited up. The outfit for indoor skydiving is cooler than a traditional dive. Then, I only got a helmet, goggles and a pair of clown pants to put on over my jeans. This was because you come into land by skidding on your bum.
For this, I still got the helmet and goggles but I got a full jumpsuit to wear as well. I felt a bit like an aviator pilot, a feeling I didn’t get when I did my aerobatic flight. Go figure.
Now, in skydiving you tip out of a plane so for this I imagined that I would have to leap off a diving board. Nope, you just walk up to the wind, lean in, and whoosh! You are not very high off the ground though, (a metre or so). It was a bit weird to be able to clearly see the floor.
Your “diving” position is different too. Here you need to pretend you’re a starfish but when you jump out of a plane it’s a sort of kneeling position with your arms crossed in front of you.
I had recently read in a history book called “ The United States of absurdity” about a very dodgy amusement park called “Action Park,” which existed in New Jersey USA in the 70’s and 80’s but was closed down in the 90’s for being too unsafe (google it, it’s fascinating).
They had a wind tunnel, and when your time in the wind was up, they just cut it and you fell. I had been expecting that this was how my turn would end too, but actually, the instructor just grabs the handle on the back of your jumpsuit and gently pulls you away from the wind. Thank God for that.
The tunnel itself is actually very similar to the freefall I did from 14,000 feet. Except the experience is longer (a freefall from that height is roughly 60 seconds) and this is not as cold. Possibly because this is indoors.
In next week’s instalment, read about my actual flights, the disaster and the success and find out the question on everyone’s lips, which form I liked better.
I bet you can’t wait…
PS – to see video of the adventure, check out the Inner Musings of a Funny Looking Kid Facebook page.