Yesterday, we took the two oldest, and a couple of friends, to experience the freedom of flying.
Airkix, in Manchester (there's another at Milton Keynes) is an indoor sky-diving experience.
The session starts with a video presentation; explaining the basics of what you need to do; followed by an instructor, with more in-depth advice. Reassuringly, you're not told to just throw yourself in, but an instructor is with you, helping, guiding and, through the use of sign-language, get you to fly independently.
Once inside, you have 2 x 1 minute sessions. That may not seem like long; but believe me, when you're new to this, it can seem a while. In fact, even the experienced flyers were in for a maximum of 2 minutes each.
The large fan beneath the steel mesh floor can produce winds in excess of 140mph. However, small children would be blasted through the roof at those speeds; so it was around 100mph for our four intrepid flyers.
They were each a little nervous, but once they had their all-in-one jumpsuits on, with goggles and helmets; they looked just the part.
The time came to jump. We were told that this is a total simulation to free-falling out of an aeroplane - in fact, the wind tunnels are now a much cheaper alternative (it costs £11/minute to run); and quicker, to use; and the national sky-diving teams can train in the relative safety of the tunnel. You're not going to hit the ground in here.
Indeed; as long as you don't have any major injuries; this experience is for anyone. When I went, there was a young girl with spina bifida; and incredibly, yesterday, a young man who had lost both his legs in a bomb blast, is now a sky-diving champion. A real inspiration to show that if you have the will; you can achieve anything.
Here's a brief video I took of our four children, and I would seriously recommend this to anyone.
It's not as easy as it looks! You can purchase a DVD of your session, and photos, as a memento.