Today was the day I got to cross something off my bucket list—skydiving!! Or at least a close enough approximation of it to satisfy me!
We had about a 15-minute prep class where we saw a video on the basics, saw a brief demonstration of proper form, and learned the hand signals that they would use (since you can’t hear anything in the chamber).
There were only a few hand signals and basically you relax in the tunnel while bending your arms and legs a little and keeping your chin up. Easy, right? Of course! (Until you step into the tunnel, but I’m getting ahead of myself.)
After the class, it was time to get suited up. We all got jumpsuits, plastic goggles, ear plugs, and a helmet. I asked how to best wear my hair and was told braided or in a low ponytail so I took the easy way with the ponytail (I actually tried a quick braid but it wasn’t working and we didn’t have THAT much time to suit up). And I have to say: What a joke. They really should have stressed wearing a braid, wearing a cap (which I would have gladly done), or at the very least putting the ponytail inside the helmet. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We were each slated for two one-minute flights, plus Tom and I had added a “high flyer” package which meant the instructor would take us up higher towards the top (instead of staying at or below chest/head level); it also came with a photo.
There was a group of about 10 of us and we filed into the chamber. Katie was the youngest and there were a few older than us—and everything in between. A set of grandparents and a granddaughter went before us. The granddaughter was a previous flier because she started out with a bit more advanced moves which was fun to watch. Soon it was my turn—and as soon as I stepped foot into the wind tunnel my mind kind of went blank. How was I supposed to bend? What were my arms supposed to do? What did the hand signals mean? It’s amazing what 120-180mph winds will do to your brain as you’re being blown around like a leaf! (I never once felt unsafe—the instructor is RIGHT THERE with you and your jumpsuit has handles on it for the instructor to grab—but it was FREAKY.) It probably took a good 20-30 seconds to calm down (maybe less, but time almost has no meaning in there) and start thinking more clearly, but by then you’re on the downswing of your allotted time. Needless to say it was VERY, VERY cool and I had A LOT of fun and my first minute was over too quick.
Katie was next and HOLY COW she REALLY flew around like a leaf! (They can adjust the wind speeds on the fly, so they probably calmed them down a bit for her once she got in, but she took off like a shot!) She did very well and appeared to be having a good time…but after her turn was over, she said she didn’t want to do her second flight, so I would use her time instead and get a two-minute flight for my second time!
Then it was Owen’s turn. He actually did better than I expected, considering he’s generally afraid of anything out of the ordinary.
Then it was Tom’s turn. Then it was time for the second set of flights. And let me just say that two minutes practically feels like an eternity in the wind tunnel! But, since I was now somewhat experienced and was getting the hang of it, the instructor let me do some hand movements that made me spin around. It was completely amazing how the tiniest of finger tilts could send you spinning around and around—tilt to the left, spin to the left; tilt to the right, spin to the right. It was also super cool to be zoomed to the top of the chamber with the instructor—we did that two or three times in fairly rapid succession (as seen in Tom’s video after mine below).
Then it was Owen’s turn again, and he didn’t have as good of a time on this go-round. His legs were like spaghetti and he just couldn’t seem to get them under control. Again, there was no danger and he didn’t seem concerned or scared, but the instructor pretty much had his hands on him the entire time.
Then it was time for Tom’s second flight. This is a picture from his instructor-assisted high fly as they came down to the bottom of the chamber:
So, you may be wondering why there is no good picture of me. Funny story, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
So after all the participants were done flying, we filed out, received our certificates, and eventually disrobed.
We also took some pictures.
And it was at this point that I realized my hair had a big knot in it—I had tried to take out the ponytail to wear my hair down (we had plans to meet friends for lunch afterwards) but it was nothing I could fix with my fingers so I just put it back up in a pony tail and honestly didn’t think much of it.
Of course they had a sales pitch at the end as well, offering more flight time at a pretty good discount. With the assurance that we could use it at ANY location…and since there are three in the Chicago area…we went ahead and bought it. The kids aren’t interested, but I certainly am. Tom might or might not—he enjoyed it, but it really messed with his back (though he thinks that if he stretches out more ahead of time it might be better).
So we left and I was excited to get home and check out our photos and videos—remember, our package had come with one video for each participant plus Tom and I each upgraded to the high fly which came with a photo. But first we had to go meet friends for lunch…
And you will have to keep reading to find out what happened with the photos and videos…