David Kershaw embarks on his latest summer adventure this week by skydiving...indoors
My mum is always telling to play outside.
“You’re either in or you’re out,” she bellows.
“We didn’t have all these Myface thingies and Wiiboxes when I was a girl.
“We went outside and played proper games come rain, hail or snow.”
I’m not sure where she grew up, but it was uphill both ways to school apparently.
Anyway, you can guess my surprise when this week in my latest summer activity adventure I was told I would be skydiving... indoors.
Of all the things to do indoors I never thought skydiving would be a possibility.
But don’t get me wrong, the thought of hurtling earthwards at terminal velocity from 20,000ft does leave me sweating with terror, so I was glad to be doing it indoors where it is safer – and of course, it is always nice to contradict my mum.
“Oh, so you want me to play indoors now do you?”, I asked cheekily.
Tucked away next to the Trafford Centre in Manchester, Airkix is the region’s only vertical wind tunnel giving visitors a chance to feel the exhilaration of skydiving without even boarding a plane or leaving the building.
After a quick safety briefing I was kitted out with a helmet, overalls, goggles and earplugs before waiting for my ‘flight’.
Before I knew it, it was my turn.
I fell into the huge glass tube with my arms forward and my legs bent as four high performance fans, together generating wind speeds of up to 150mph, blast me into the air, replicating the conditions that skydivers thrive on.
Outside the tunnel is a viewing platform where friends and family can watch the action and take photos.
The rush of air was so exhilarating I forgot the instructor’s hand signals and began soaring skyward like an errant Charlie Bucket after he sampled Fizzy Lifting Drinks in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Luckily I was spared the embarrassment of having to burp repeatedly in order to return to the ground because I had my very own Willy Wonka on hand to bring me back down to earth.
Eventually I got used to the zero-gravity sensation and, with a bit of guidance from the instructor, I levelled out.
For two minutes I flew unnaturally in space, having the time of my life as 150mph winds rushed past my face.
My package included two two-minute flights, which might not sound like a long time but it’s longer than a skydiver gets when falling 20,000ft to earth from a plane.
Before entering the tunnel for my second go, the instructor pointed upwards to the ceiling and nodded.
I nodded back, reluctantly.
We entered the tunnel and he grabbed me. The noise got louder as the suction increased and before I knew it I was flung 30ft to the top of the chamber in a succession of tight spins and then back down to the bottom.
It was one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever experienced.
Afterwards there was some time spare before the next group so, for an extra charge, I was able to back for a third go.
After finishing the session the instructor popped back into the chamber for some high-flying antics.
He flew upside down, zoomed around the chamber, did back flips and zipped around at lightning speeds.
I’m sure he’ll get the hang of it soon.
As for me, I was on cloud nine for hours afterwards.
The whole thing was caught on camera too and I took home a DVD of my antics to show to any disbelievers.
At first I wasn’t sure what to expect from indoor skydiving, but it turned out to be my most thrilling adventure yet. Which is saying a lot after walking with sharks, being a zookeeper for a day and taking on the world’s biggest rollercoaster water slide.
It isn’t cheap but if you want the thrill of falling out of a plane at terminal velocity without the terror of actually jumping, or just a chance to play indoors this summer, then Airkix is for you.