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11/13/09
Today I Became a Flying Squirrel

So here's something that I don't normally get to say...

I went skydiving today.

My dad has always wanted to try skydiving, so last year I got him a gift certificate for indoor skydiving in Pigeon Forge. (I would have done "jumping out of an actual plane" skydiving, but my mother told me that if I in any way encouraged my father to throw himself out of a moving aircraft at 13,000 feet, I was out of the will). So we compromised with indoor skydiving (all of the flying, none of the plummeting towards Earth at a deadly rate of speed) and I told him that when he was ready to use the gift certificate, I'd go and do it with him.

So we did.

They start you out with a five minute video about how to stabilize yourself in midair, how to tuck and roll so that when you go ricocheting out of control (and you will) you can land without hurting yourself, and what hand signals you're supposed to use to communicate (because the fan is really loud and you can't hear in there). Then once we signed the waiver stating we wouldn't sue them if we died, they suited us up and away we went!

Here we are in our nylon jumpsuits. This man beside me, dressed in what looks suspiciously like a mouse mascot with a crash helmet, is my dad. I'm sporting the mauve/lime green/bright yellow combo. Stylish, no?

Thumbs up means "good to go" in skydiver-speak. We also learned the signs for bend your legs, straighten your legs, arch your back, bend your arms, straighten your arms and relax. Oh, and thumbs down, which means "I have grievously injured myself and need some assistance". (Luckily, we didn't have to use thumbs down).

"Good to go!"

The actual flying is done in a giant multi-story chamber with a big fan at the bottom and fluffy pillows all around the edges (for landings). The instructor flips on the fan and you get into "stable position", which is basically your arms and legs spread out and a slight arch in your back for maximum wind resistance. Then air speed picks up, and all of a sudden you've left the ground and you're flying! The feeling is incredible. It's not like anything I've ever experienced before. I never stopped laughing the entire time I was in there.

I will say that it isn't as easy as it looks. Even the smallest twitch in body position sends you rocketing off in some new direction. Because Dad and I were beginners, the instructor kept a hand on us to try to stabilize us somewhat. Dad and I took turns flying...trading off back and forth as the instructor corrected our posture and took us through some spin moves. (Because my back is super flexible, I kept trying to arch up to the point that I was loosing my wind resistance. As soon as I would correct it though, I'd shoot up into the air like a rocket).

While Dad and I were flying, Mom was good enough to take some video from the observation deck. And because I would never consider denying you the opportunity to see me impersonate a giant fashion-impaired flying squirrel, I'm posting it below.

Oh, you are so welcome.

So when you're running around doing your Christmas shopping this year and you just can't decide what to get that person who has everything, I recommend indoor skydiving lessons. It's a great family bonding experience, and an absolute blast to boot!

Thanks for experiencing it with me, Dad!



4 comments:

Stephanie said...

I love it!! He almost doesn't re-grab you at the end - You would have been up, up and away!

danielle said...

This looks so fun! And you are definitely the cutest squirrel I have ever seen.

danielle said...

Also, sent you an email maybe a week ago? Check your junk mail for me. Subject was something about a Christmas party. Can't remember exactly. It's coming from my hotmail account!

Melanie said...

I have always kind of wanted to do the real thing, too. Maybe I should go try this sometime.