I went indoor skydiving, and it’s the first thing this year I’m crossing off my 50-before-50 bucket list.
(Technically we were outside but I was skydiving in a wind tunnel rather than from a plane so same difference.)
Although I didn’t find it quite as thrilling as I thought I might it was still a fun activity. I put some pics up on Facebook earlier and I don’t think my friends were overly impressed that I did this version of skydiving. But luckily the things on my list are for ME and not to impress anyone else!
Why Indoor Skydiving?
Having done this indoor dive, I think I could be persuaded to do the real thing. I mean, I’m not about to go and organise it for next week. But if the opportunity arose at some point, I may go for it.
I wasn’t sure about doing a proper skydive before. I think my nervous system has been too worked up for too long that jumping out of a plane feels like too much adrenaline. Although to be fair, as a nervous flyer, it could be the safest I’ve ever felt on an aeroplane. What with having a parachute on and all!
Assessing the Risk!
Anyway, when I was putting my list together I just thought it felt a bit too risky. I’ve been involved in health and safety in quite a few of my job roles, and that really makes you look at risks. Sometimes, things have a high likelihood of going wrong, but the consequences if they do aren’t catastrophic.
Then there are other things where the chances of something untoward happening are very low. But if they do, the outcome is disastrous. Although skydiving is pretty safe, if things go wrong they can go really wrong.
Social Media Fearmongering
Being on flippin’ TikTok didn’t help either. My For You Page seemed to go through a phase of showing me people who’d had all sorts of life-changing injuries from skydiving accidents. OR it was people making the “5 Things I’d Never Do” videos. And pathologists listing skydiving.
The instructor at the centre did make a good point though when he asked if they were related to tandem skydives. I guess things are more likely to go wrong with inexperienced solo divers than in the sort of situation I’d ever be in.
What Was Indoor Skydiving Like?
I booked online through a third company and then just showed up at the centre at the timeslot I’d chosen. SkyDive Attica is the company I used, and they have the first skydiving wind tunnel in Greece. The site is about an hour away from Athens, quite close to Corinth.
When I arrived, I had to fill out a form and health disclaimer, and then it was time to start. In my session, there were two other people. It was another blogger, actually, a Greek woman and her husband. We were taken over to a little hut that all the flight suits and helmets to choose from.
We were all given jumpsuits to wear although it took three tries to find me one that fit. I don’t think they were designed with women in mind. But I was confident that there would be one big enough since I was quite a bit below the weight limit.
When I first enquired about skydiving in the summer time I was right on the maximum weight limit. Since then I’ve lost some weight so I wasn’t really close to the limit. They didn’t weigh us, but I think they might do that for real skydiving. I guess it’s a bit more important in that context.
After we were kitted up in these highly attractive suits, we headed over to another space. There we met another instructor who would be in the wind tunnel with us. He took us through a safety briefing and introduction of what to expect.
The instructor taught us the body position we were aiming for and three hand signals he might use to direct us.
How to Fly
I was surprised that we were taught to keep our legs straight. Our arms had to be bent out in front of us like I’ve seen in pictures and videos before. But normally, the people I’ve seen have had their legs bent up at the knee.
I think the smaller you make yourself, the less stable you are. So, we were going for maximum surface area. The other thing we were told was to remember to keep our heads up. Stops you going in for a roll I suppose!
Last Checks and Into the Tunnel
Once we were suitably briefed on body position and how to allow ourselves to move about in the tunnel we headed off. We climbed the steep steps to the tunnel platform and recapped the instructions.
One instructor was there to control the wind. And the other one that had briefed us went in and goofed about a bit. He showed us what not to do, and then it was our turn.
I was second to go. Before getting into the tunnel, the instructor had me stand in the position we were to fly in. Then my visor went down, and I stepped into the tunnel.
I was a bit worried about stepping onto the metal mesh floor in case it wouldn’t hold. But of course, it was fine. As soon as you go into the tunnel, the wind hits you, even though it’s not at full speed. The automatic door closed as I went in and I stood in the flying position.
Skydiving in the Wind Tunnel
I heard the wind increase, and the instructor put his hands below my torso. To start with, I didn’t like the noise and force of the wind. But I quickly got used to it and started to tip forward.
As I did, the wind caught me, and I was floating. The instructor supported me until I was steady enough to let go. From the video, I can see I went careering off a bit when he did. I think we all did at first. Then he grabbed me by the suit (it comes with handles on the side) and got me steady again.
After a moment, I worked out what I needed to do and got the hang of things. I think the other instructor increased the wind flow at the same time. Probably I’m a bit heavier than they guestimated and needed a bit more oomph to get me up.
Getting a Workout
It’s physically quite hard work to hold yourself in position, though. I really had to clench my muscles to stop my legs blowing up over my head. I couldn’t keep my body straight, and I bent like a banana. I’m not sure whether that’s what’s supposed to happen or not.
My arms really felt like they were getting a workout, too. You have to push against the resistance of the wind to keep them in place. All the while, the wind is hitting your throat. That’s the right thing to feel, but it was a bit uncomfortable sometimes.
The flight times seem short when you book. But when you’re actually doing it, it’s quite a long time. Apparently, in the tunnel, you freefall for at least twice the time you would from a plane. Our freefalls were 16000ft / 90 seconds, and I was ready to come down when I did.
To finish your flight, the wind is reduced, so you get close to the bottom of the tunnel. Then, the instructor helps you get back up to standing.
You can book various packages, and I booked the first-timer’s 2-flight option. The three of us each had a go and then went back in for a second flight. Obviously, the second time, it was easier to get the hang of it.
Would I do it Again?
Overall, it was a fun experience. Some things I didn’t expect:
- that it would be quite as hard work to hold myself in the position needed to skydive indoors
- that the tunnel would be as narrow, I’d anticipated feeling freer. You have to manoeuvre back and forth a bit when your hands and feet touch the edges. However, I think at some centres in the UK/US the tunnels are much wider.
- it wasn’t quite as thrilling as I thought it might be. Although we were outside in the countryside I didn’t really get a sense of appreciating that as I was in the air because I was concentrating so hard on my body position.
I’m not sure I’d do the wind tunnel again. I enjoyed the experience, but I think that was enough.
How Does it Compare to Real Skydiving?
Obviously, I don’t have experience with this myself. However, the instructor told us that doing a tandem jump is different because you don’t have to manoeuvre yourself or hold your body in position. You’re strapped to a professional who’s doing all the work. And you’re literally just along for the ride.
Like I said at the beginning, I think an actual skydive might be something that I do in the future. I think I’d have some apprehension going up in the plane. But I feel like I could enjoy the way down more than I thought.
What to Wear Indoor Skydiving
You don’t need anything fancy to go, so there’s nothing special you need to pack if you’re considering doing this in Athens.
I wore a pair of leggings and a fitted long-sleeved top. If you don’t have any leggings or you’re a guy who’s not into wearing skinny anything, then I understand close-fitting athletic pants are absolutely fine. You just need something that fits under the flight suit.
Probably the most important thing is closed-toe shoes. But the trainers / simple athletic shoes that you’ll likely have with you are perfect. Other than that, tie your hair back and take off anything loose like jewellery, and you’re good to go.
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