What we really want, of course, is to fly as we would in our dreams.
Waking life offers us various aspects of that experience. Parachute jumping provides a bird’s-eye view of the earth, the brief sensation of weightlessness, and the chance to control movement through subtle gestures. This last bit, it turns out, may be conveniently enjoyed indoors.
I found myself with a free day in nearby Tukwila, home of the Seattle location of iFLY, one of about fifty of their vertical wind tunnels wordwide. It happens that even unlikely-looking humans can be made to levitate, and can begin to acquire some skills right away. (Some restrictions apply: they ask about history of heart trouble, back injuries or shoulder dislocations. You see me wearing one white glove because I was unable to remove a ring from that hand. They are understandably wary of debris in their 140 m.p.h. slipstream.)
There’s much of the magic of soaring, and without the encumbrance of an aircraft. It’s inspiring just to watch the instructors, like Josh, the guy in the red suit above, who flies as well as any animated superhero. The International Bodyflight Association has videos showing you how it’s done. And by the way, some of the other thrills of jumping can be added back in. Any flight can include a quick trip up to the top of the tunnel. And virtual reality can take the flyer to popular skydiving sites, or for a wingsuit ride.