It's a bird, it's a plane, it's


Ever since there have been birds in the sky, men and women have yearned to be right up there with them. So far, the closest we can come to the experience of our bodies in flight is skydiving. A little airplane takes you up to 5000 feet, then you leap out the open door and plummet toward the Earth at the speed of a rocket, flying unencumbered until you pull the ripcord and open your parachute. It does sound like fun. If only it weren’t for that plummeting toward the Earth at the speed of a rocket thing…



Nowadays, you can fly without the fear anytime you like thanks to SkyVenture, which features a nifty little device called a vertical wind tunnel. You can always count on the U.S. military to come up with the craziest adventure tools, and they thought up the idea of flying indoors in 1964. Thirty-four years later SkyVenture opened their first commercial flight tunnel and $50 or less will get you your first flight.



What to expect: Arrive early in your casual clothes and sneakers so that you can watch other people flying from the observation deck. Then you’ll meet your flight instructor who will show you a demonstration video about tunnel flying, and teach you the correct body position, hand signals (because it’s too loud for talking in the tunnel) and how to enter and exit the flight chamber.



SkyVenture provides all the equipment you’ll need, including a helmet, goggles, knee and elbow pads and ear plugs. Suit up and it’s your turn!


You enter the flight chamber and sit on a bench with the others in your group and, one at a time, take turns flying. When it’s your turn you’ll walk over to the air stream and just lean your body into it until it lifts you off the ground. Experienced flyers say it feels like floating, not like falling, and there’s a net below you at all times for further safety.




So just how different is SkyVenture from free-falling out of a plane? Believe it or not, veteran skydivers swear that the tunnel feels just like the real thing. In fact, many skydiving teams train regularly in vertical wind tunnels before competitions. So, if you can handle the rush of SkyVenture, perhaps the next step is something a little bit higher off the ground...

—Douglas Lichterman

Getting there


There are SkyVenture vertical wind tunnels in Phoenix, Orlando, Denver, Perris, California and Nashua, New Hampshire. Rates for your first flight vary from site to site, but are all currently under $50, everything included. For a portal that links to all the SkyVenture locations, visit SkyVenture.com.



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