Tori and I went Indoor Skydiving up in Perris, CA on Sunday for Kenny's birthday with Jill, Corinna, Lisa, Wayne, Lindsay and Jennine. When we arrived in the morning, the 96 foot tall wind tunnel looked like a rocket ship about to blast off into space with the huge intake vent at the bottom spreading out like an exhaust nozzle. Since it was a busy weekend, we could only purchase the First Time Flyers Package of two flights each for $55. (One minute per flight.)
While Kenny and Jill have done this before, the rest of us first-timers had to take the short training class to learn all of the hand signals and practice the Stable Position. (Arched back with legs bent at a 45 degree angle and elbows at 90 degrees. Hands cupped down and chin up.) Without the force of the wind, it was hard to maintain the position for very long, especially with my sore muscles from Saturday trapeze. After the training, they gave us a jumpsuit, earplugs, goggles, and helmet.
Since they booked ahead, Kenny and Jill shared 15 minutes, two minute flights interspersed with the rest of ours. With all that extra time, the instructor taught them new positions with each flight. (Spinning like a top, flying upside-down and a horizontal corkscrew.) During one flight, Kenny entered standing upright on the net with both hands in the air. He looked like the Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tubeman with his arms flapping out-of-control over his head. Ha!
Out of the newbies, I was the first one into the chamber. Walking in, the instructor had me lie on the net before they raised the wind speed. I was able to maintain the Stable Position fairly easily but my bent spine hurt and the jumpsuit dug into my crouch. When the instructor gave me the signal to relax, I shot up high in the air. It was a bit of a surprise, but I remembered to drop my hips to get back down again. On my second flight, I leaped through the doorway onto the air column with my hands under my chin before spreading out into the position. It was less painful this time and he taught me how to spin in place by slightly tilting my arms. That was fun.
All the wind tunnels I have seen on television have an open padded area surrounding the column of air, but the one in Perris has a pressurized chamber surrounded by steel and glass walls. The only padding was lining two narrow doorways leading into the narrow antechamber where we sat between turns. It sounds more dangerous, but it actually provides more stability since you don't have to worry about slipping out the side of the updraft and falling to the floor. This means that the 120 miles per hour wind is consistent throughout the chamber so you can shoot up high without worry. Lisa shocked us on her first flight when she disappeared completely out-of-view through the windows over our heads.
Since Jennine sat this experience out, she took our pictures through the glass with three different cameras while watching and holding Tucker. At the end of our session, the instructor showed off all his coolest tricks. (Launching super high up, several flips, twirls, and a sweet maneuver where he floated vertically upside-down 8 feet up and lowered his body in both directions while keeping his head still.)
Afterwards, we walked over to the airfield where I tandem-skydived back in 1998. Eating lunch at the Bombshelter, we watched the skydivers jump out of the planes overhead. Most came in quickly under their chutes with sliding or running landings, but we saw one big wipeout where a guy hit the dirt with his feet and then face-planted forward. While it was a great day, my chiropractor told me this morning that I strained the hell out of my middle vertebra. He popped them back in place and I'm now good to go.
Link to 2016 Indoor Skydiving Post at iFly San Diego