The taxi drops me off on Convention Center Drive, a stone’s throw from the Strip. It’s 9:30 in the morning, and I’m early for my Vegas Indoor Skydiving experience. Sitting on the stoop of the unassuming building that looks more like a wholesale furniture warehouse than an über-cool adventure zone, I drink my decaf and trace the cracked asphalt with my shoe. Am I going in the wrong direction? The last time I was in Vegas, I jumped out of a real plane in the middle of the desert. Now I’m just going to bounce around a padded wind tunnel. It feels ... middle-aged.
Fortunately, once the doors open and I’m whisked inside, I get an undeniable man-cave vibe. The crew is rolling in - lean, young guys perhaps a little hung from a late-night gig. High fives are exchanged while I sign the second waiver of my trip, suit up and head to the briefing room.
Nick, my instructor, is a strapping, post-Blue Man Group actor-musician. He stands tall and broad. Well, hello, professor! As he demonstrates the positions that will allow for the most flight, his deep and velvety voice rolls over me like clouds on a lazy summer day. "Stay relaxed," Nick suggests. "Just let the air take you away. The more you tense up, the quicker you’ll fall off the air stream."
I’m equipped with goggles, helmet, earplugs, and a hot pink-accented jumpsuit. This is not the way to Nick’s heart, I’m sure. We hop into the padded wind tunnel, quickly practice a few curl falls, and the operator cranks up the fans toward 120 mph. Then it happens: "Something has changed within me. Something is not the same." I am Elphaba from Wicked. I am Robin (not yet old enough to be Batman) jumping off the couch as a 4-year-old. I am Superman, or at least Superboy.
I rise toward the wind-tunnel sky and am not sure if I’m crying or if the wind is causing my eyes to water. I have taken flight.
Nick and I are on a carpet-flying honeymoon. He gently keeps me at the center of the current, sometimes barely holding a wrist or ankle and other times wrapping around my waist like a child clutching a helium balloon. It’s oddly intimate, and when he lets me go it’s only a matter of seconds before I flail into the sidelines. Back on my feet, he signals me to dive in again and - woosh! - I’m whisked back into the air. My three minutes literally fly by. For a triumphant finish, Nick goes solo and shows off his veteran moves, shooting into the air and spinning 360 degrees.
We say our goodbyes. I give him my card; he’s polite but decidedly professional. It’s another one-sided whirlwind romance, but far different from the one 17 years ago. This time, there will be no banshee wailing. Just a mischievous grin and a reminder that the world can lift me to the most unexpected places.
Vegas Indoor Skydiving
Pricing from $85 for a single flight.
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