Why I'm scared senseless by iFly

Rob Garratt has written a Dubai bucket list. He’s just too chicken to use it

Last word, The Knowledge

Rob Garratt has written a Dubai bucket list. What a shame he’s too chicken to use it.

Now I’m not a man known for reckless behaviour or needless risk-taking. The idea of exposing myself to the hazards of rock climbing, scuba diving or paintballing has just never done it for me. The only thing ‘extreme’ that I’ve ever noticed about sports is the price of paying for them on my TV. Regular readers of this column might remember how team outings to Ski Dubai and Dubai Autodrome have left me flummoxed and embarrassed in front of my colleagues. Yet despite all this I had a dream. Okay not a dream, but perhaps an idea; at very least a notion.

Last year I helped put together a ‘Dubai Bucket List’ cover story for Time Out, and ever since I’ve filled idle moments on the Metro, spent time waiting for restaurant bills and queuing on Sheikh Zayed Road, mentally drafting my own UAE must-dos. Sometimes I formalise the list with drafted memos on my phone. Others I even pull out paper and pen. But whether my notes are mental, virtual or physical, they all have one thing in common: the top entry always reads (more or less) ‘Skydive (???!?)’

Well, it did, anyway. Granted, it’s not the most original before-I-leave-Dubai goal. But it certainly seemed the best place to start. For close to a year, tatty scraps of paper and misspelt emails to myself have proudly born this seven-letter representation, a badge of honour for the whole bucket list concept (selected other entries include spending a night in every emirate. I’ve done six so far – sorry Ajman). Why did I strike it off the list so suddenly, you ask? In a word: iFly. A resourceful friend suggested that before throwing myself out of a plane at 13,000 feet, I could perhaps try a few minutes in a wind tunnel, Reluctantly, I saw sense in such
a suggestion.

I say minutes: Technically one minute is all I lasted. After coughing up the fee and listening to the instructor’s advice, I enthusiastically kitted up in the jump suit, goggles and helmet. But my enthusiasm came crashing to a sudden halt when I found myself being thrown horizontally into the path of two gigantic 3m-wide, 400-horsepower fans blowing at 100kph.

I can’t really tell you what happened next, only that it may have been the longest minute of my life. I plopped to the floor, bumped into sides and (possibly) spun a 360 loop before I grappled out of the chute with what may have been vomit dripping from my lips. The Dhs220 first-time rate buys a second minute inside the tunnel. Even the frazzled six-year-old sitting next to me displayed the guts to step up. Suffice to say, my bucket list is now one entry shorter.

Still, there’s one upside to it all: without skydiving on it, completing my bucket list has got cheaper. Speaking of which, does anyone know of a good hotel in Ajman?

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