Originally uploaded here
If you’re a regular to this blog, you probably know that I have strong fear of heights that I screamed while riding the cable car in Hong Kong’s Ocean Park and that I chickened out in Macau Tower’s bungee jump. But I realized that my phobia is remarkably fading when I tried chairlifting in Ski Dubai.
With the presumption that I’m now ready to face one of my biggest fears, I was too excited when I learned that one of the few indoor skydiving facilities in the world is located in Abu Dhabi.
After some googling, I noticed that the chamber in respective countries which have indoor skydiving facility practically look like the same. I also took note of the peculiarity among the remarks I gathered between outdoor and indoor skydiving, the adrenaline rush of jumping out of the plane or helicopter versus the fun of really, really flying in the made-to-be windblowing and mindblowing alike experience, respectively. So, we decided to try indoor skydiving a day after my natal day.
How is flying made possible in this case? According to our friend Wiki,
A vertical wind tunnel (VWT) is a wind tunnel which moves air up in a vertical column. It is a recreational wind tunnel, frequently advertised as “indoor skydiving” or “bodyflight”. It is also a popular training tool for skydivers.
Vertical wind tunnels enable human beings to fly in air without planes or parachutes, through the force of wind being generated vertically. Wind moves upwards at approximately 120 mph, the terminal velocity of a falling human body belly-downwards, although this can vary from person to person. A vertical wind tunnel is frequently called ‘indoor skydiving’ due to the popularity of vertical wind tunnels among skydivers, who report that the sensation is extremely similar to skydiving. The human body ‘floats’ in midair in a vertical wind tunnel, and this is called ‘bodyflight’ or ‘body flight’.
I almost wanted to back out when we were already at the registration. I reminded myself a million times that this would be one of the best gifts I could and should ever give myself: to conquer a fear. I oddly thought that the actual flying may not kill me, but I might die of heart attack (although I don’t have a heart ailment heehee) or due to crazy nervousness. Lol.
So we registered, signed the waiver and were toured to pre-chamber area. The place is neat and there are lockers offered at no extra charge. The session is by batch and there’s this guy-kiddo who went with us because his companions didn’t qualify to the 90-kilo or lighter requirement.
Before the instructional video was played, our instructor re-introduced himself, “Hi everyone, I’m ___ and this is my first day in Spacewalk Abu Dhabi!” What? Scary! I didn’t think out loud though. 😀 Well, I must be too nervous to have not immediately discerned that he was just trying to kid us to establish the needed level of comfort. At that point, my fear resurrected. I felt like having a fever and about to pee. Wahahaha.
Since the instructional video says that the mother rule is to relax, so I did. I’m generally obedient, but not as obedient as Harry (Potter) is to Dumbledore. 😀 A number of positions were demonstrated and standard signals were reiterated, i.e. to chin up, straighten or curl up legs, etc. These hand signals are very important because inside the chamber when you are already lambasted by strong air, there is no other means to communicate but through these.
We were asked to wear a knee cap, flying suit, helmet, goggles and earpiece.
The session was comprised of two parts, you will be taught to do the balance and establish a reasonable comfort at first, then you will be given the chance to really fly. Picture-taking is allowed only outside the chamber. The wall is too thick though so expect blemishes in your snaps.
When it was my turn to go in, I was not scared at all. It helped that I was the second to try in our batch and saw that the first one had fun. When I went in, I remember like throwing myself and not just walking. The next thing I knew I was already flying. Ang lakas ng hangin. I went up, down, bumped to the wall and whatsoever motion. I just kept my chin up. Don’t look down or else in case your head bumps, you’ll miss the fun. And please don’t close your eyes. We tend to do that when we’re scared, aren’t we? Like when watching horror films or anticipating the unknown.
In the second (final) session, you and the instructor will fly together almost 10 feet above, (up and down in a circling motion). In general, the lighter you are, the bigger the chances of flying high. By the way, the whole session is being recorded and a copy of the DVD will be provided to you. It will cover not only your own fly, but of the whole batch. If you have any issues with it, you have to inform the receptionist right away. Just like in our case, even if I signified my preference beforehand, my/our fly was also in that stranger’s DVD. I wish I could share my fly’s video, but I’m tooo shy to do so. Haha. I just noticed that I was grinning the whole time I was in the chamber and in some parts I saw my facial muscles dancing. As in gumagalaw galaw ang pisngi ko sa lakas ng hangin. And my feet moved a lot during the training. Parang lumalangoy. Haha. So before I re-entered the chamber, the instructor demonstrated the proper feet movement.
I don’t have a photo of that amazing up and down fly and since I’m not willing to share my video, I’m borrowing this photo from the Gulfnews:
Exciting, isn’t it?
While waiting for the DVD at the reception, only then we noticed that the other LCD was actually airing the batch’s session real time. So, the receptionist saw my giddy fly. 😀
Watching those who were currently in the chamber was like seeing ourselves. You will notice that it’s really blurry due to thickness of wall. She’s being trained to achieve proper balance.
She was flying on her own.
I’ve got two, I’m sending one to the Philippines. I’ve already watched this plenty of times and it always felt like watching it for the first time. 😀
Here’s a glimpse (training):
How it should be done:
This kid had a training in synchronized spacewalking:
It’s truly intimidating and scary at first but it’s absolutely fun. I hope though it’s not that expensive because I want to repeat this amazing experience. And better yet, I want to learn synchronized flying/spacewalking. 😀
How’s the feeling? It’s like being a charming yet powerful bird or Peter Pan or Tinkerbell (without the pixie dust), worry-free and all that you see are bed of roses that you wish it’s not going to end.
Indoor Skydiving/Spacewalk, Abu Dhabi Health and Fitness Club
Landline: +971 2 446 3653, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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