Would you ever skydive? That’s a question that I’ve always answered with a resounding “no way – no how”. My fear of meeting “Mr Earth” face first is much stronger than any thrill seeking ambitions. At least I thought so until I found an indoor skydiving center located in Orlando.
Indoor skydiving offers the freedom and excitement of skydiving, but without the jump or hard fall. In the tunnel, your instructor will assist you in leaning directly into the wind flow so you will be lifted up. An instructor will be with you one-on-one while you are in the tunnel. No experience or special skills are needed to fly.
Indoor skydiving is another activity that I undertook while attending the Sage Software Insights conference last year. Since I don’t travel outside of Connecticut very often, I always try to make the most of these conventions.While other consultants were up receiving sales rewards at a formal dinner, my good friend Myron and I snuck over to SkyVenture Orlando (about a $30 one way cab ride from the Gaylord Palms Orlando).
Skyventure Orlando is located across the street from Wet & Wild in the heart of Orlando’s International Drive. You’ll know you’re in the right place by the large silo that looks like a mock-up of the early Apollo space capsules. That’s the skydiving chamber that houses a big fan which blows air upward, creating lift for anyone standing above it. As you’ll see in the video – once lifted you can do just about anything that you might do while skydiving.
There are several packages offered. We chose the multimedia experience ($69.95) which included 2 one minute simulated skydives as well as a DVD of the entire experience. Note: If there are several people in your group you only need to buy one multi-media since it features all members of the skydiving group/class.
Be sure to arrive at least 15 minutes before your class. We arrived and signed up for a class that started in about 2 hours. This allowed us to walk around downtown Orlando for a little while and then return when our class was about to start.
Before your class, you sit and wait in the outer observation area. While it’s tempting to make fun of the other people attempting to fly – I suggest you refrain. It’s not as easy as it looks. And when you go to take your turn – others will be watching from those seats.
Finally when it’s your turn to skydive in the simulator, you’ll meet up with your group for the trek upstairs for training with an instructor. They’ll issue you a suit and helmet. Lockers are provided and everything in your pocket must be emptied into the locker. They allow you to keep the key which has a pin to attach to the inside of your clothing.
Everyone takes a turn practicing the proper “stance”. This is important because if you aren’t “spread out” when you enter the simulator you won’t fly. It’s a little embarrassing to get up in front of a class of strangers and try this.
After you are trained, suited up and given pre-flight instructions – it’s off to wait with the instructor. Usually there will be a class in the simulator so you wait outside while they finish. Depending on your package you’ll have two or more one minute flights. The height of your flight is controlled by how fast a fan blows air. There is a control room where another instructor varies the fan speed to provide adequate lift.
Once inside the simulator, the instructor assists with everything. They’ll get you in the proper position and prevent you from crashing into the sides. Don’t worry about falling – the floor is a trampoline with the fan located way below. If you fall, the only thing that happens is you bounce. Hitting the plexiglass walls is not much of a problem either as you are wearing a helmet.
So what does it look like in real time? Here’s a YouTube video I shot of some of the more experienced fliers. This isn’t me (though I told everyone at work that it was…). Notice how he is hitting the floor and bouncing? That’s because the floor is one big trampoline which prevents injury for anyone who may suddenly fall from flight.
And HERE is the real video. This is a segment of the video that I purchased as part of the multimedia package. In this clip Myron flies first. Then I follow. My flight isn’t pretty. Myron got the hang of it rather quickly.
Overall it was a blast to try and we had a LOT of fun telling all the other convention goers that while they were listening to boring speeches we went skydiving! (No, we didn’t tell them it was inside).
I recommend this for anyone who is curious about skydiving but not curious enough to jump from a plane. The fee is reasonable given the amount of time that you spend inside with training, waiting and then ultimately flying. Be sure to get the multimedia package because it contains lots of JPG images of EVERYONE in our group as well as a full length video.
Link: SkyVenture Orlando
6805 Visitor Circle
Orlando, FL 32819
Exit 75 A off I-4 (across from Wet & Wild)
Reservations suggested: call 407-903-1150 or 1-800-SKY-FUN-1
Intro To Flying – $ 44.95– one hour of flying which is instruction time plus two one minute flight sessions
Multimedia Package – Same as above but includes DVD and Photos – $ 69.95 – RECOMMENDED
What I liked:
– no hard landings
– group instruction
– safe environment to try something that many would never attempt from a plane
– great rainy day activity
– picture package provides LOTS of photos of EVERYONE skydiving – great value when multiple people skydive together in one group
What could be improved:
-you’re probably going to have to wait for the class to start – we waited about 2 hours
-two flights of one minute length wasn’t enough to get good at this
-lots of strangers watching – both class participants and observation room