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Central Standard

WATCH: What It's Like In Kansas City's New Sky Diving Simulator

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iFLY
KCUR's Suzanne Hogan attempts to take flight in the iFLY wind tunnel in Overland Park, Kansas.

If you just want to watch the video: scroll down.

Like most people, I've had fun dreams about flying around through the air. But as a person who is generally scared of heights and gets nervous looking over the edges of balconies and roof tops, I never thought I'd actually want to jump out of an airplane and go sky diving. That is, until recently.

When I heard about the new iFLY facility in Overland Park, Kansas. I poked around on the internet and thought, Sky diving-lite? I can handle that.

So I booked a flight.

Wind tunnel trends

These wind tunnels have been popping up more and more around the world. The Overland Park, Kansas, location opened up in January, and they say they've been pretty busy — especially on the weekends. 

The idea behind it is to attract complete newbies like me who are curious and terrified about free falling, and at the same time veteran professional divers who want to work on their skills in a more controlled environment without having to worry about weather conditions. 

When I walk in, I'm met by Jeremy Struemph, an instructor who says he is working his dream job. He says it's normal for me to be scared. 

"We're doing something that we are not programmed to do, right? We're not programmed to fly," says Streumph.

He goes so far to say it can be relaxing and addictive.

Taking the plunge

I sign a waiver. Nope, I don't have any back, neck or shoulder injuries. Yes, I'm between 3-133 years old and under 250 pounds. 

Once a group of five divers has gathered, we head back into a room for an instructional video. Inside the wind tunnel it's too loud to talk, so we'll use hand signals to communicate things like, keep your chin up, a little more bend in the legs — smile, relax, breathe.

After the video we suit up, put on a helmet, goggles, ear plugs and a jump suit. 

It's around this moment I start to get a heavy feeling in my stomach, but it's too late to chicken out now. I enter into the wind tunnel.

I'm not really sure how to describe the two minutes I spent in there swimming around the wind tunnel. 

I step out, heart racing, sick with adrenaline. How am I expected to go back to work after this? 

The biggest take away? It is fun. It is exciting, surreal. It makes your nostrils feel weird.

I wish I would have stretched more ahead of time because my back was a little tender the next day. I would, and will, totally do it again.

And someday, maybe, hopefully, before I die — I'll try to do the real thing. 

Suzanne Hogan is a reporter, announcer and producer for KCUR 89.3.

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Every part of the present has been shaped by actions that took place in the past, but too often that context is left out. As a community storyteller taking a new look at local history, I aim to provide that context, clarity, empathy and deeper, nuanced perspectives on how the events and people in the past have shaped our community today. I want to entertain, inform, make you think, expose something new and cultivate a deeper shared human connection about how the passage of time affects us all. Reach me at hogansm@kcur.org.