Tuesday, January 30, 2007

through the air with the greatest of ease

My parents are possibly the coolest people on the planet at the moment.  It may not last, but I think my entire extended family believes this after Sunday afternoon.
It all started with a conversation between my sister, my sister-in-law, and me at somebody's family birthday party during the fall.  My sister has a desire (I won't comment on its sanity - well, I guess I just did, didn't I?) to jump out of an airplane someday.  And my sister-in-law has actually done so.  Anyway, we were talking about the whole subject of skydiving, and my Mom overheard us.
Flash forward a month or so.  My sister-in-law tells all of us that she has too much stuff and would prefer that we make charitable donations in her name for Christmas, instead of buying her something else to find room for in her house.
Sometime later, one of my parents' friends tells them about taking his entire family to the indoor skydiving place south of town.  And the whole thing gels all at once.
So, on Christmas Day, my parents sit the entire extended family down in front of a TV, and play us a DVD - their friend's family, indoor skydiving.  And present us all with gift certificates to do the same thing ourselves.
We went on Sunday, as a mob.  Eleven of us (out of thirteen) viewed the training video, suited up, and spent two one-minute sessions in a vertical wind tunnel, hovering various distances above the ground.  And drooling - a tolerable side-effect, but we all did it.
What's it like?  I wish I could describe it.  For starters, it's a lot easier than I'd have thought - once they turn the fans on, it's hard not to float.  The first task is to fall into the wind tunnel, fists beneath your chin.  Not something I'd try in just any room, but it actually felt like the right thing to do at the time.  Just lean forward and relax, and your arms open up and you're nearly in the right position without even thinking about it.
That's about the time you notice that your sinus cavities are filling with rushing air - it feels like you've just jumped feet-first off a high dive, actually.  But that's only a minor distraction, and on my second try, I didn't even notice it.
What I did notice is that I was grinning.  A lot.  I think I was even giggling on my second go - especially when the instructor did some tandem stuff that caused us to levitate into the top portion of the tunnel a couple of times.
I'm ready to go again - I want to learn how to float while standing and run around the walls of the tunnel like Spiderman, and dive headfirst only to pull up just in time.  Our instructor did all of these things after we were through, just to show us the possibilities.
Excellent Christmas gift - a George Foreman grill isn't even in the same league.