How To Go Skydiving Without Getting In A Plane

My second flight in the wind tunnel

Saturday morning, my five-year-old asked, “What are we going to do today?” I told her, “You guys are going to come watch me learn to fly.” Since we consider it our right as parents to troll our children regularly, she didn’t believe me at all. I told her if she didn’t see me fly by the end of the day, I’d double her bedtime story that night.

She got only one story.

A friend and I went to Paraclete XP Skyventure in Raeford, NC to try wind tunnel skydiving–all the fun of falling without that nasty landing part at the end. We got a quick training class followed by two one-minute sessions in the wind tunnel. For the first minute, the wind was relatively low. I actually had trouble getting very far off the wire mesh “floor.” For the second minute, they turned it up, and we got to go up pretty high, although not as high as the well-trained instructor went in his quick demo.

I’ve watched videos of the frequent fallers, and they make it look easy to flip, turn, and fly across the tunnel. Let me assure you, it’s not. It is, however, a lot of fun, and I highly recommend it. While you’re in there, you could pretend you’re:

  • A Jedi training for Force jumps
  • Elphaba defying gravity
  • Captain Kirk trying orbital skydiving
  • The Gravity Pilot
  • Patrick Swayze or Keanu Reeves in Point Break (Who doesn’t want to be a fluffy-haired Swayze?)
  • Inspector Gadget, floating with his propeller hat

Ready to go? Here’s a whole list of wind tunnels you can check to find one near you.

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By day, Ruth works to make open source software communities better. The rest of the time, she makes things, which means her husband and kids know to watch out for stray sewing pins and to ask before eating anything made of fondant.