Thrill of flying without the plane

editorial image

When was the last time you did something that frightened you?

Or even made you a bit nervous? Has it been a while? Yes, me too, unless you count that unexpected acupuncture session.

I only popped in to see if anything could be done about my damaged thumb – a jitterbug injury: don’t ask! – and the next thing I knew I was sitting in a darkened room with needles in my arm. Seems to have done the trick, though.

But it seems ages since I had that unmistakeable feeling of tenseness in the digestive tract that precedes an adventure. So when my friend Anne asked me if I’d like to go indoor skydiving, I thought: why not?

Those of you who’ve ever done ‘real’ skydiving will think that doing it inside in a vertical wind tunnel doesn’t count, but it’s the nearest I’m ever going to get.

It’s not the jumping out of the plane that puts me off, it’s the getting into the plane. I just hate flying. The last time I took off from East Midlands airport, like a child I had to be coaxed down the aisle by the flight attendant and then I spent the whole trip with my eyes shut tight and my fingers in my ears – and I was only going to Dublin.

But stepping foot into AirKix in Milton Keynes was fabulous. After being kitted out and shown a brief training video, which included learning various hand signals – two thumbs down means ‘Let me out!’ – we took our place in the launch area. All you have to do is fold your hands across your chest, tilt your chin up and step in, at which point an instructor tips you into the right position and off you go. The force of the wind really takes your breath away and apparently equates to jumping out of a plane at 24,000 feet.

The key is to relax, which is difficult to do when you’re as excited as I was. It’s not as easy as you might think to hold yourself steady. I couldn’t resist the urge to do the full Superman pose, with my arms stretched forwards. They’re supposed to be bent at right angles, like a cactus, but I found this really hard to do. But I didn’t disgrace myself and on my first go managed to fly solo for some of the time.

But the second go was even better. The instructor caught hold of me, leg-and-a-wing-style, spun me round and whooshed me high up in the tunnel, then back down, then up again, then back down. It was just the best feeling ever and

I’m definitely going to do it again. Fancy joining me next time?