Skydiving for All
FlyStation brings excitement to the masses
Outdoor skydiving is not for the fainthearted. That’s probably why I’ve never seriously considered it before—even though I think of myself as more adventurous than most. But when the opportunity arose to do indoor skydiving, my reaction was quick. “Yes, of course I’ll do it. It can’t be that scary,” I reassured myself, unconvincingly. That’s why I made my way one overcast morning in September to FlyStation, an indoor skydiving venue in Saitama Prefecture. In retrospect, I have zero regrets about that decision, despite having moments during the experience when I felt scared out of my wits. As it turned out, I not only felt like I could fly during what was in fact only a handful of gravity-defying minutes of levitation, I was also hooked on the adrenaline rush. In the end, the overriding feeling was of excitement and accomplishment, and, somewhat unexpectedly, gratitude—especially toward the warm staff at the venue.
Moment of Truth
FlyStation offers an indoor adventure like no other. When we arrived, a jovial staff member welcomed us and walked us through the necessary paperwork. Minutes later, we were ushered by our instructor to the wardrobe area, where we were to get suited and booted. Before long, having laced up; put on our jumpsuit and donned a helmet, goggles and even ear plugs—all provided by FlyStation—we were ready for action. But first, the instructor led us to a seminar room for a quick introduction to indoor skydiving. There, we watched a short instructional video and received further directions. And then came the moment of truth: we marched toward the cylindrical glass drum, or wind tunnel, which produces winds of more than 200 km/hr.
Was I a little apprehensive? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. But the smooth nature of the onboarding process had, by this point, reassured me that I was in safe hands. And indeed, novices to skydiving need not worry: at FlyStation, participants are accompanied by an expert during each stage of onboarding—before, during, and after the dive.
Flying Like a Bird
When we went, the dive itself lasted only a couple of minutes. And yet, without exaggeration, those were some of the most exhilarating two minutes of my life. As the instructor and I reached the gate of the tunnel, I could hear the four-engine machine beneath us roar into life. Stepping into the arena, as previously instructed, I got into the appropriate position—again, as instructed in the seminar—with my instructor guiding every step.
And then, I was afloat. With the gusts keeping me in place, and the instructor adjusting me as needed, I felt as if I was flying and then diving. Almost like a bird, I dipped toward Earth, then I was heading back up again. Then, as if things weren't fun enough, the instructor, hands still guiding me, was also afloat. Together, we soared several meters toward the ceiling, then swooped back down. We soared, then swooped, soared, then swooped. And then it was over. On the way out of the tunnel, I felt a little disoriented, so I sat down to get my bearings. A huge smile worked its way across my face. “I could get used to this,” I thought.
FlyStation’s large, modern facility is fitted with a lounge area on the first and second floor where you can relax as you wait your turn in the tunnel. A children’s play area and cafe is available on the second floor—although, due to precautions over the coronavirus pandemic, the cafe was temporarily closed. I’m looking forward to visiting again once the situation improves.
Welcome to the Club
Is a three-hour round trip for a few minutes of skydiving worth it? Absolutely. Indeed, there is no way to do justice to the feeling of flying—except to try it. And what’s more, once you do it, you feel as if you’ve been initiated into a secret society. That probably explains the high-fives I exchanged with a stranger—an experienced indoor and outdoor skydiver, I would learn—as I walked out of the tunnel. I think he was welcoming me into a brotherhood of thrill-seekers.
I’m a writer and startup ecosystem consultant from the United Kingdom. I love travel and food, including finding off-the-beaten-track cafes, riverside walks, and mountainside and seaside inns. One of the funnest things I’ve done in Japan was to travel by ferry from Tokyo to Okinawa, 48-hour trip on a cargo ship. As for eating, I’m a huge fan of family-run Japanese izakaya pubs, especially ones that serve yakiniku skewered meat. Izakayas are a great way for me to connect with locals, speak Japanese, and get filled with awesome food and drinks.