Skydive without a Plane

Ever wondered how dogs feel when they have their heads out the car window and their jowls flapping about? Well, I think I now have great insight into how that feels along with the photos to prove it.  Who knew I had such a wobbly face?

‘Thor’ is Australia’s first outdoor vertical wind tunnel and can be found in Coffs Harbour. Xtreme Bodyflight is the perfect opportunity for those wanting to test their levitating skills or for those keen on sky diving but daunted by the prospect of getting in a plane and jumping out.

For some flying fun, my 11-year-old son and I went along for a bodyflight on the weekend.

There were a number of people already there when we arrived, but it turned out most were spectators. In all, there were eight of us ready for action. We met the Xtreme team and were handed our denim suits. The loose fit of the suits is best for letting the air in and puffing us out to assist with buoyancy. After a short briefing to learn the best positioning in the air and key hand signals (it gets too loud to hear anything in the tunnel) we all made our made over to ‘Thor’.

It was interesting to learn from team member, Xavia, who’s also a very keen skydiver, that it’s rare for anyone to fly well in the wind tunnel to start. On average, he says, it takes about 10 goes before you’re flying unaided and naturally, it comes more easily to some than others.

We all made our way over and up the steps. Everyone was pretty quiet, so I decided to ease up on the chatter and questions. Once on the platform, Xavia gave us a quick demo and moved up and down and around the tunnel with the greatest of ease. I was well-aware that the rest of us would be look far clumsier in action.

I was second in the queue behind a teenage boy celebrating a birthday. Ear plugs were handed out to all the participants. It was about this time that I noticed that my son had gone uncharacteristically quiet and had started fussing repeatedly over one and then another pair of ear plugs – a sure sign of his nerves.

As for my butterflies, they were surprisingly minimal. Compared to say, preparing for a skydive (which I did once, years ago) the fear factor was low, and I was excited about what was to come. The teenager’s time up, I was next in line and in I went, albeit ungracefully as I stepped onto the netting before lying flat in starting position. Then the volume and velocity button went up and up some more and I was off the deck and away.

Post flight, my son and I agreed that I started well and settled into a comfortable position and hadn’t needed too much support. Toward the end of my two minutes though, things went rather pear-shaped and I was wobbling all over the place and needing a firmer hand to guide me. Throughout my time though, it was lovely to look over at my son, who’d nominated that I go first, and see him giggle and smile at his mid-air mum!

I came out looking so hot – quite literally, with the reddest of faces, goggle marks and hair all over the place. In fact, I looked just like I had spent a couple of minutes in a wind tunnel with 200kms of air blasted at me. Funny that.

My son was next. The next couple of minutes flew by (get it?). He was full of smiles, well-balanced and held steady for much of his tunnel time. But enough of my thoughts, here’s his verdict…

So, what did you think?

Before I did it, I felt really nervous and worried about something maybe going wrong or that I would shoot up to the top of the tunnel but once I started it was a relief. It was a feeling I have never felt before. It was amazing. The time in there went really quickly.

Did you find it easy to keep your balance?

Yes, I found it quite easy to keep my balance and think I maintained my position pretty well.

Would you do it again?

Yes, I would do it again and I would recommend it to other kids. It’s an amazing feeling being in the air and floating like that. I felt like I was flying.

So, for those of you, big and small, ready for the challenge, perhaps it’s time to meet the mighty ‘Thor’.

Here is footage of the experts in action to inspire you….

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGOkstlb-RI

Xtreme Bodyflight is in Hardaker Lane, just off Hogbin Drive in Toormina. The vertical wind tunnel is set-up behind Springloaded and Coffs Harbour Heath Club.

It is operational during weekends with extra sessions running these school holidays.

Children from the age of five can participate and the experiences start from $49 with different packages to choose from including family passes and team building. Bookings must be made prior.

For more information, go to http://xtremebodyflight.com.au/ or phone Kerry on 0499 987 363