Thursday, June 26, 2008

I Can Fly!!!

In the words of Peter Pan, “I can fly!” For a very long time now I have had the desire to fly. It began with a yearning to learn to fly planes. Then skydiving piqued my interest. For years now I have been planning to skydive; it is after all cheaper than taking flying lessons.

Skydiving is on the calendar for sometime in August this year. In my quest for adventure and new experiences this year I have decided it was time. Still, at the end of May I was able to get a little taste of not only skydiving, but the freedom of floating on air.

Most people have never heard of indoor skydiving. I hadn’t either when I received an email from a friend. Maggie had been invited to a birthday party but wasn’t able to make it. She suggested to the birthday girl that I take her place. Ironically enough birthday girl and I work for the same company as Maggie does and had never met. The company isn’t that large, I just work in a remote office and so our paths haven’t crossed. Christina was very gracious and let me crash her birthday party. “The more the merrier,” she said! Thanks, Christina, it was one of the most fun birthday parties I have ever been to!

Skyventure is located in Lone Tree, Colorado. According to the web site ( this is “a 12 foot, recirculating 1200 HP wind tunnel.” According to me it is just a big barrel of fun!

Our adventure began with a lesson in flying. This short video showed us the proper body position. We also learned hand signals since hearing the instructor inside the tunnel was virtually impossible. Our main form of communication involved signals to bend or straighten our legs, chin up, and relax. However, once I was in the tunnel it took me a while to be able to relax and remember what the signals meant.

During our instructions we were told to take everything out of our pockets and to take off our jewelry. Derrick, our instructor, told us he had a flyer who didn’t believe him when he said if it was in your pockets it would be sucked out once in the tunnel. Apparently this man had about $500 in twenty dollar bills that he didn’t want to part with. He kept them zippered in a pocket inside his jumpsuit; that is until he got into the chamber. The bills were sucked out and sent flying around the wind tunnel. I decided not to test it for myself and took my earrings and necklace off.

We were then suited up in jumpsuits that covered us from neck to ankle. We were given helmets, ear plugs and goggles. Then it was time to make our way into the wind tunnel. The tunnel is an octagonal shaped room with a small room along one side for the flyers to wait their turn. The floor is a metal mesh net and beneath it we could see the equipment that helped power the tunnel. There are two doors, one for entering and one for exiting the tunnel. The chamber is about 12 feet in diameter and I would guess about 15 feet high (at least in the space we were flying in.)

When it was my turn for my first flight I approached the door, brought my arms to my chest and raised my chin. The raised chin was important for helping control flight, but it also was a great reminder to look around and enjoy the experience. I leaned into the chamber and began to move into the proper flying position. Thankfully Derrick was in the chamber with each of us to help because I promptly forgot everything I had learned in our training session.

With his help I was able to experience some flight. That first time though I had a lot of trouble controlling myself. I have to laugh because Derrick was very expressive with his hand signals as he emphatically gave me the sign to relax over and over. I have always had trouble relaxing my muscles like normal people! Toward the end I did get a little better and began to enjoy myself.

The second minute in the chamber I did much better, but still have a way to go before I can really control my own flight. I got to experience some true flight and was really beginning to like it. Then in the last few seconds Derrick grabbed hold of the handles on my jump suit and the instructor in the control booth turned up the air. With Derrick’s help we rose and then descended spinning round over and over. This was sheer ecstasy! I could have stayed there forever soaring and spinning! All too soon the flight was over and it was time to get out.

Indoor skydiving was an awesome time and has totally fueled my desire to do the real thing soon! I also came away with an important lesson for life. No matter what happens, keep your chin up and relax!

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