Telling yourself you’re a daredevil if you do indoor skydiving is like believing you’re being healthy if you have a Diet Coke with your Big Mac meal. It’s just plain cheating. Besides, ‘indoor skydiving’ is bit of an oxymoron: there’s no sky indoors, and you’re not actually diving, you’re doing the exact opposite: being propelled upwards.
Sure, with outdoor skydiving you have to sign a lengthy liability waver that states, in bold, unavoidable print, ‘Skydiving is a dangerous sport and may result in serious injury and/or death’. Sure, you shake your way up to 10,000ft in the air in a rickety old plane that looks like it couldn’t hold a feather duvet, yet alone six hefty humans. Sure, when you’re falling through the sky at speeds of up to 220kmph the only thing that will eventually stop you splatting is a paper-thin piece of material…
But this is what’s so fun about it. You can only get an adrenaline rush when you feel like you’re in danger; floating indoors a mere two foot above some meshed netting is hardly life threatening.
You don’t have to think too much about your technique either, as the instructor does all the hard work for you – all you need to do is put your head back, cross your arms and scream. A lot. And once you’re out the door, surprisingly, it’s not scary anymore: you’re too busy taking in the amazing view to be scared.
In the UAE, the only place to get your flying fix is the Umm Al Quwain Aeroclub, and, on a good day, you can see as far as Dubai; the top of the towering Burj Dubai almost 10,000ft beneath you.
But it’s the mangroves that make this a really great place to jump: the turquoise waters and sandy islands have the blurred, swirling look of marble. It’s breathtaking. Surely it beats staring down at the netting of the Spacewalk’s vertical wind tunnel – not to mention trying to avoid the stares of the people gawping from behind the plexi-glass surrounding you. There’s no question, you can’t beat the real thing. So stop being a pansy and jump out that plane door.
Prices for a tandem jump start at Dhs1,000.
Yes, there are people who jump out of planes. There are also people who walk blindly into traffic while reading the newspaper. These such people are called ‘reckless’ and rarely would you want to be strapped to them at high altitude. So, for acrophobes everywhere – and those who simply prefer their skydiving experience to be a little more, let’s say… ‘grounded’ – there exists Spacewalk.
You could argue that indoor skydiving lacks the thrill of its outdoor equivalent. Sure enough, that grotesque gnawing feeling of mortal terror in the pit of your stomach is absent. But the Spacewalk is no simulator. There are no computer screens or rickety pods. Instead, you enter what is essentially a giant cylindrical wind tunnel, the power of which is enough to physically lift you off your feet. In fact, it would surely deafen and debag you rather swiftly were it not for the earplugs, helmet and jumpsuit in which you are previously clad.
The force of the wind is breathtaking – literally. At first you are told to lean into it and let it catch you. Sure enough, instead of falling flat on your face, you hover about two feet off the ground.
With your back slightly arched and your head raised, the instructor gestures at you in increasingly hieroglyphic movements as you struggle to remember the instructional video you watched earlier. But after a while you get the gist of it and at least manage to not bump into the plexi-glass with so much regularity.
After your four-or-so minutes are up, you feel exhausted, but at least you then get the pleasure of watching your friends and family suffer the indignity of 1,000 horsepower of fan in the face.
It’s a great group activity and, best of all, unlike skydiving, young children can do it too. You also get to experience significantly longer freefall than you would if this were the real thing, and as you get better you can even practise tricks and flairs. In short: this is the skydiving where you don’t have to leave the kids at home. Now what can be wrong with that?
Introductory flight tickets start at Dhs180, while family packages start at Dhs750.