Probably one of the most unusual experiences we’ve reviewed for Babies & Kids in the City; here, children aged four years and upwards can fly! Airkix, an indoor skydiving simulator, is frankly as close as you get to flying without actually sprouting wings.
We were all very excited on arrival – both the spectators (mums!) and the flyers (four boys plus one dad who’d wangled his way out of work early!) You arrive an hour ahead of your flight in order to fill in the appropriate forms and to take part in a safety briefing with your instructor. Whilst waiting for the briefing, we went upstairs to the viewing area alongside the simulator – this was our first proper look at it…. wow! It’s a large cylindrical wind tunnel that is clear-sided so you can see all the skydivers taking their turns. The fans are in fact at the top, well out of the way of the flight chamber – a safety net (phew!) provides a sort of ‘floor’ and then way below that, you can see the ‘inlet contractor’ where the air is drawn in at the bottom. Quite a sight if you’ve not seen anything like this before.
Josh, our cheerful instructor came to go through the procedures and how everything would run – what was going to happen, correct flying positions
and hand signals that you needed to try and remember in order to communicate with him when you’re in the simulator.
Then, in a scene straight out of Top Gun, our four boys plus Dad donned their flying suits, helmets, goggles and ear plugs before taking their places around the wind tunnel. Josh took each person in turn: one step through the door, lean into the wind, and whoosh, you’re flying horizontally five feet above the safety net. It’s great fun, and perfectly safe because the instructor guides you constantly in the column of air. And until you’re really capable, he won’t let go of you!
All but one of our group managed to fly on their own – the one that didn’t was a little overcome with the sheer noise level together with the sensation of breathing in such high-velocity wind. Josh did a brilliant job of reassuring him, and he was ready to try again when his second turn came around.
Each flight (our group had two each) lasts one minute – this might not sound a long time but to put it in perspective, on a 12,000 ft real skydive, you’d free fall on average for about 45 seconds.
In a crowning moment (for an extra fiver and only if you wish it to happen), the instructor will take you careering upwards, right to the top of the tunnel at a rate of knots as the fan is turned to full blast. Quite incredible.
Airkix is about as exhilarating as an attraction for kids can possibly be. It’s an utterly unique experience and one you’ll be talking about for weeks.
Daily – booking essential.
Kix-Start taster session (peak-time) £45.99. off-peak £39.99
Family Flight for 5 people: Peak-time £179.99. Off-peak £159.99. Kix-Start Super Saver (week days before 11am or term-time 4-6pm) £29.99 each.
Airkix, 9 Trafford Way, Trafford Quays Leisure Village, Manchester M41 7JA
Tel: 0845 331 6549 airkix.com