My 4-year-old niece went skydiving. Sounds mad doesn’t it?
In my life I’ve taken a whole range of risks, be it while serving in the military in Afghanistan or flying a wingsuit formation from the north face of the Eiger. But letting my four-year-old niece jump from a plane is probably a bit too far. Not because jumping from a plane is that dangerous but at the age of four she wouldn’t be able to analyze the risks fully herself. I take calculated risks and that means understanding the risks, minimizing and mitigating them.
So we went indoor skydiving instead. iFLY just opened a brand new 14 foot wind tunnel in Mission Valley in San Diego. It’s a state-of-the-art facility with a 2-storey high glass chamber that’s powered by four electric fans that generate 400 horse power each. That means they can push the equivalent of 11,000 feet of clean air past the flyer in one minute. The air speed can go up to 175 mph – that’s far more than you’ll need. I’ve got hundreds of hours in wind tunnels having been flying in them for around 15 years and this one in San Diego impressed me.
My four-year-old niece, Kailey, performed flawlessly. As I sat back and watched her in action I realized that there was a lot I could learn from her:
1. Act. We went from the class, to donning the jumpsuit and helmets and straight into the wind tunnel. Any spare few seconds in between she would watch the other flyers in the tunnel (the glass tunnel is center stage) or on the videos. She was taught a skill, rehearsed it quickly and then had the opportunity to immediately act and practice. Too often in life I find myself trying to get more information before I act – she dove right in and got on with it. Taking the leap and acting once you have just enough information is becoming more and more critical. Act now.
2. Trust And Learn From The Experts. We went to a state-of-the-art facility with highly trained IBA certified instructors. If you want to accelerate your learning you need to go to some of the best. Watching Kailey, she trusted the instructors. She could sense in their mannerisms and their interactions that they were good at what they did and would look after her. She trusted them – not only to teach her but to keep her safe and have her best interests at heart. Find the experts in your field, then find one that you trust and learn from them.
3. Relax. One of the secrets of flying your body is to relax. It’s much easier said than done. Adults tend to jump into a wind tunnel and tense up. It makes it harder to fly on the air column. iFLY try to make it easy and their technology sucks clean (non-turbulent) air through the tunnel, but you have to relax. Kailey, like many kids, just relaxed. She did what she was told and was the best flyer in the group. Relax into what you’re doing, develop your flow and achieve.
4. Fear. Kailey was scared. She nearly didn’t go back in for her second flight. She’d done it. She’d achieved what she needed to achieve. One of the instructors, Michael, talked to her, promised to look after her and take her for a fun flight. He helped her conquer that fear. From the point of view of a kid I can see how this can be scary. Michael was great too, involving the parents and getting the balance exactly right (iFLY are well known for recruiting exactly the right staff). Kailey dealt with it. She sucked up her fear, went back in and had an awesome experience. Conquer your fear, don’t let it conquer you.
It doesn’t matter if you’re four, 40 or 80, there’s always lessons to be learned and what better way than to do it than by going indoor skydiving in a wind tunnel!
You can check out the video of Kailey’s two flights below.
Thank you iFLY San Diego. We had a great time and can’t wait to come back.