Newest Review: ... be booked online at www.airkix.com or by telephone 08453316549. Location Manchester Airkix is located next to Chill Factor E near the T... more
Falling with style
Member Name: rolletrog
Advantages: Brilliant present, cheaper than the real thing, available for most people
Disadvantages: Expensive, not many places around the country to fly.
I have two brothers for my sins; one gave me a spiral egg holder (as requested) for Christmas which I should actually receive next month; the other was much more creative - he purchased me an Airkix voucher and for this reason he shall receive a much better birthday present this year.
~~*~~ Flying without wings ~~*~~
The concept of Airkix is simple - parachuting without the plane/parachute/possible death. You know those wind tunnels that they test the aerodynamics of random things in - it's that but upright. The first people to think of this and use it for fake flying was the American military in 1964, it wasn't until 1982 when the idea of using it for fun caught on and Las Vegas grabbed the idea. SkyVenture have built 17 tunnels, the first to be built in Europe was Milton Keynes and the second in Manchester - handily just down the road from me.
~~*~~ Off to a flying start ~~*~~
My brother in his wisdom booked our flight (he got his fiancée a flying voucher too) for 10.00 - not a bad time on the face of it but you're required to arrive at least an hour beforehand and it's an hour's drive away meaning I had to drop the dogs off at me mother's by 8 on a bankholiday when legally I should have been fast asleep. Grump over, just thought I'd mention it.
You can book everything online including the time and fill in all your details so when you arrive you just have to sign the waiver and off you go. Well, not quite, you're forced to sit through a wonderful information video for 15 minutes which wasn't that bad but good lord, the benches could really have done with a cushion on them. Then the instructor came in and repeated a few details and asked us some questions to make sure we understood the hand signals (I'm not going to tell you the details as it'll make it all the more exciting when you go to see for yourself).
We then trotted single file and a little quiet into the next room for our outfits.
~~*~~Flying by the seat of your jumpsuit ~~*~~
Yep, you do have to wear a rather fetching jumpsuit which unfortunately did some people no favours but quite honestly, you don't care when you're flying. You keep your own clothes on and as long as your shoes are firmly attached to your feet, you don't have to borrow the spare daps. You're given a pair of goggles, ear plugs and a lovely helmet. We were now pretty much deaf as a group but luckily we'd had instructions on the next section but it was strangely scary. Now I know what happens I'm itching to go again though.
~~*~~ Fly on the wall ~~*~~
You're then filed into the outside section of the windtunnel and the doors are sealed behind you and your instructor. You sit in a row and shuffle along each time until it's your go - there were 8 in our group and the time flew by (see what I did there, ha, hilarious...anyway). My time was split into 2 flights of 1 min, the fiancée-in-law had a better package (well, he is going to marry her) and she got 3 flights of 2 mins (lucky cow). The actual wind tunnel is made up of Perspex panels so as you enter the outer section cameras flash and your mother waves wildly in your direction. Luckily everyone's as embarrassed as you are and you don't notice. You literally lean through a doorway with your arms crossed into the windtunnel and the air magically supports you - don't worry, you're not whisked upwards to your doom - the clever flight instructor controls the windspeed and changes it accordingly so that you remain vaguely level. I say 'vaguely' because your body remains in position providing you yourself don't move - for example, moving your head down or placing your legs closer together makes you move around. The flight instructor helps you by moving your body into certain positions which I found really interesting as I like to learn new things - on further flights they improve your techniques and brother dearest, if you're reading this, Christmas is just around the corner.
If you have time to look, there is a clock counting down your time (you don't have time to look so don't worry) but this is mostly for the benefit of the instructor. Above this is the controller man - this is particularly important because within his little booth is the camera - smile constantly if you're wanting to purchase a memento (I didn't but I still stole the pictures from their website). Bear in mind there is also a dvd available (mine was free in the package thing I got - it's boring but I guess it could be entertaining if someone spews in the tunnel).
You're asked at some point whether you'd like to go to the top of the tunnel (it's supposed to be an extra £5 but for some reason we never paid) - do it. It's amazing!
~~*~~ Pigs may not fly ~~*~~
Whilst it is probably not possible for my lovely dog, Pig, to have a go (due to there being no ear plugs large enough) most people are accepted - there was a 6 ish year old boy having a go in our group, a man with a prosthetic leg and a very old fat bloke whose face jiggled a lot under the wind pressure.
You may not fly if you are:
Over 18 stone
Under 4 (under 18 needs parental/guardian signature)
Under the influence of alcohol/non-prescribed drugs
Are wearing a hard cast
Have previously dislocated your shoulder (some poor bloke in our group had done his over 10 years ago and the instructor told him he could still fly but it was likely his shoulder would pop out again - needless to say the man didn't want to take the risk).
I think this is probably the first 'activity' I've not had to declare my epilepsy which is a refreshing change - it does say to tell the instructor about any heart, neck or back problems but hurrah, I don't have any of those.
~~*~~ A fly in the ointment ~~*~~
It was a lovely gift and I've spoilt it by looking at the prices but hey ho: all in the name of review writing. It's not a cheap pastime - £29.99 buys you 2 mins. I know I charge a lot to walk dogs but £900 an hour is pretty expensive! The more you fly the cheaper the packages you can purchase but for me it was more of a fantastic present that I would like to have again but not something I would buy for myself. I don't think it would replace the feeling of a real skydive (brother, if you're reading take note) but if you were a serious skydiver in need of practice, it's definitely cheaper. The prices for the merchandise aren't that ridiculous - the photos were on a par with those from the rides at Blackpool, the t-shirts for example are a tenner which would be a nice memento for some. You can purchase photos and the rest of the merchandise from the website - just remember the date and time you flew.
For more information than you can shake a stick at, go to www.airkix.com - everything you need is on there. Or if you're too lazy to click on that link, then maybe you could pick up the phone and call them on 0845 3316549 for any enquiries. I found them very nice people (especially our rather attractive flight instructor, mmmmm, man in tight suit...) so I'm sure they'll be happy to chat to you.
Caroline & Pig
Both enjoying the wind.
Review will appear elsewhere, probably.
Summary: Do it.
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