When time and funds are limited, there are ingenious ways to practice extreme sports. Back in November 2015 I took my son skydiving and skiing and this week we did the same again. But we weren’t really risking life and limb since all of this took place indoors.
There are apparently 56 places in the world where you can practice indoor skydiving, and we visited the iFly centre in Manchester. So what is it? Essentially, it’s a vertical wind tunnel where you’re ‘suspended’, flying in mid air, in winds of up to 100 mph.
As well as being very windy and noisy it’s actually great fun. The whole experience lasts two hours although actual ‘flying time’ is only about two minutes. Before your flight, instructors give an all-important safety briefing and explain how to get your body position just right. Then you’re kitted out in a flying suit, ear plugs, goggles and helmet and take it in turns with a group of other
reckless daredevils excited customers to experience the thrill of skydiving.
The best bit happens towards the end of the second flight. The instructor grabs tight hold of you then flies you both upwards at speed to the top of the wind tunnel, down again, then repeating the whole manoevre. I guess this ‘high fly’ is the closest you get to experiencing what it’s really like to skydive.
The next day we donned salopettes, skis and boots as we had a great time skiing in the indoor artificial ski slope just next door to the skydiving. The artificial snow is surprisingly realistic although it’s a much smoother experience without the bumps and the weather of course. When I learned to ski years ago I learned on a dry ski slope where the brushes were liable to graze your skin if you fell too hard. Indoor ski slopes are much closer to the real thing, much softer to fall on and (unless you have access to real snow) are definitely the best place to learn to ski.
The ski season in Scotland this year was very poor, with hardly any snow. In fact, while we’d hoped to get up to Aviemore or Glenshee once or twice before our trip to the Alps there wasn’t enough snow during January or early February. I can see us using indoor ski slopes a lot more to get our skiing ‘fix’ if good snow conditions are lacking in future years – and luckily, there’s a good one not so far away just outside Glasgow.
Have you tried indoor skydiving or skiing? How did you get on?