Saturday, March 15, 2008

Wind-Tunnel Sky Diving

As I mentioned in passing a few weeks ago, a friend of mine is hosting a guest from Okinawa, Japan. The guest, a young woman, is visiting for 6 weeks. I've been trying to help out with playing the role of host, when I have the free time. Tonight, we took the guest to a vertical wind-tunnel in New Hampshire. It's where you can experience sky diving without having to jump out of an airplane. It was very cool!

The place is called Sky Venture and if you are ever in Nashua, New Hampshire and you have $50 to spare, give it a try! You only get two 1 minute sessions at that price, but it's a lot more tiring than it looks, so 2 minutes is probably a good amount to start with. I was surprised at how tired my shoulder muscles were when I finished. Watching from the outside, it looks like the people are just easily floating in place, but rather than giving the sensation of flying, I thought it felt more like body surfing in the ocean. The air is blowing by so fast it feels more like a liquid - similar to the sensation of sticking your hand out the car window when on the highway.

You had to constantly pay attention to small body movements as they would have a big effect on what direction you drifted. For example, the simple act of lifting your chin would cause you to float higher, straightening your legs would cause you to float forward and slightly bending them would act as a break.

If you are interested in some good pictures of the group session I was in, you can see them here. Unfortunately, I don't have any good pictures of my own to post but I'll post a few of my dull views. It was a bit dark, making a flash necessary, so all the pictures taken by spectators have a terrible glare due to the thick glass viewing window. The nice pictures on that web site I linked to were taken by the staff photographer who was in the wind tunnel with us.

Here are the best pictures that came from my camera.

First, I'm being launched into the wind tunnel. We were told to keep our chin up and our arms in front of our chest until we went horizontal.

This next one shows me drifting slightly above the "floor". The floor was actually a wire mesh to allow the wind from the turbines or fans below.

In this final picture, I give the thumbs up of approval. Definitely a fun time!

I also have a video of the experience. When I have some spare time, I'll post that as well.