Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Regarding the Incredibly Deadly Viper by Thomas Newman [A Series of Unfortunate Events Soundtrack].
You guessed it - AGAIN. You guys are way too cool and world savvy for my wiley ways. This one was a great adventure and one heck of a wild ride. I loved it.
I've always wanted to go skydiving. Don't ask me why, but the "fear of heights" gene was never properly installed in me. In fact, I've been literally pulled away from gulleys, backyard porches and cliff faces by friends and family members who were freaking out sufficiently on my behalf that they could not restrain themselves (imagine me blinking, totally (and genuinely) innocent as to why on earth all the color had drained from their faces). The only scary part about skydiving might be the actual act of throwing myself from an airplane. I can imagine a few gut wrenching stomach drop muscle spasms there--but in a good way. It's like the first drop off of a really good roller coaster. ^_^ (Yes, I may very well be a closet adrenaline junkie. I even like turbulence - so long as it is not inside a heavy thunderstorm in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with no islands in sight. *shudder*). Buuuutttt... skydiving is kind of expensive. And you have to go tandem the first time *grumbles* So there is this place called iFly.
It is a gigantic wind tunnel where stunt skydivers (even teams) can practice aerial acrobatics for performances, or just because it is oh so cool. Lucky for me, they also let the wee amateurs in.
So my family and I got all geared up, suited up, and hair properly stuffed into helmets. That was amsuing. I'm pretty sure the hot guy behind the counter was laughing behind his friendly smile the entire time I was wrapping my hair around my pony tail and trying to keep all the stray pieces in before sucking my hands out. Let's just say those helmets were a tight squeeze.
The chamber was supercool. It's all plexiglass so you get to see every toss and tumble and move of awesome that was made. They even had mini bleachers just for regular people to watch (or the ones waiting in line. It was consistently busy there). I saw what looked like netting, the rope kind you see in playgrounds or jungle-gym parks, but it turned out it was a wire mesh that kept us from falling to our doom in case the wind got too low.
I'm totally kidding about that, by the way.
In fact, I couldn't even see the fan generating the air. But it was a long way down, at least twenty-thirty feet I'd say, and that was just meeting up to the mesh. There was at least another good twenty to thirty feet above us as well. And let me tell you, that was A LOT of air. But I am getting ahead of myself.
First came the orientation with the standard silly video with the over-smiling people. Cue practice round where demonstrated we'd been paying attention by responding to the visual hand signals because it is so loud in there you cannot talk. Earplugs were a part of the standard equipment. Then came the actual chamber.
There were about twelve people in our group, another family paired with ours, so we had to wait in line as we scooted our bottoms along the bench toward the open plexiglass doorway. But that only added to the excitement because you got to see each person try and get the proper balance and you just knew you were going to be a thousand times better. By the time it got to me, I was practally ready to leap into the tunnel. You have to, actually. Kind of like you're pretending you're superman. Which is totally okay with me, considering we're about to fly. :)
It is WINDY. Obvious, but still valid. All of my clothes whipped around me, showing my skinny form. And my hair? The one I so tightly wound up into that helmet and made hot guy laugh on the inside? Yeah, totally came out through the one tiny hole in the helmet.
This tunnel can go up to 160 miles an hour. It. Was. AWESOME! I never felt like I was falling. It felt instead like a cushion of air was pushing me up the entire time, which in fact, it was, but this is supposed to mimic actual skydiving. Otherwise the real skydivers would never train in it. This was also confirmed to me by other members in my family who actually hate that gut-surging feeling in your stomach when you fall. Crazies.
We only had two minutes in there but it went by so fast. I couldn't stop smiling the entire time, which resulted unexpectedly with a completely dry mouth because of all the air rushing past. (This is why I love doing hands-on research. There are details that are so specific and real that you would never think of unless you are there).
The second round was even better.
But I'm not going to say why. Not yet.
Because while we weren't allowed to take cameras into the chamber for obvious reasons (wind + small, slightly heavy object + heads = bad idea) we were able to get video of it from a safe chamber where they did the controls for a small nominal price. Guess who totally bought one? :)
So look for it for this week's Feature Fun Friday!
All in all it was absolutely fantastic and I would throw myself into that chamber again in a heartbeat. Which I may just have to do, once my bank account can get its breath back. :)