Skydiving is one thing that's on most people's bucket list, but if you just can't quite work up the nerve, or you're looking for something a little more family-friendly, indoor skydiving is an excellent alternative.
At these indoor skydiving areas and wind tunnel recreation centers, guests are positioned over a giant fan and float on a column of air that blows upwards, creating the same feeling as skydiving.
While indoor wind tunnels like this are most often used for training purposes, they're also a great option for people looking for the sensation of skydiving while staying a little closer to the ground. This is also a great option for kids who may be a little too young for traditional skydiving as this sort of flying takes considerably less training—often only five to 10 minutes to learn basic stability.
As of the time of writing, there are only two spots in the state of North Carolina with vertical wind tunnel facilities: an indoor facility located in Raeford, just outside of Fayetteville, and another outdoor facility in Waynesville, just outside of Asheville. Both of these facilities offer special packages for group, parties or special events.
Located at 190 Paraclete Drive in Raeford, NC, the Paracelete XP SkyVenture is an indoor facility that's home to the biggest vertical wind tunnel on the planet in terms of power and size. With four fans at 541 horsepower, the machine inside Paracelete XP gives a great range of airspeed for any skill level and personal requirements for flight.
First timers and expert flyers alike can enjoy this facility, but be sure to book your flight ahead as slots often fill up, especially in the busy summer months. Also, plan to arrive at least 45 minutes before your scheduled flight to give your instructor plenty of time to show you the ropes of indoor skydiving.
Located on the grounds of the Appalachian Amusement Center at 49 Adventure Park in Waynesville, NC, this outdoor vertical wind tunnel facility offers a perfect day of adventure for kids of all ages.
Since this is an outdoor facility, you could go quite high—although there are restrictions in place for novices. However, expert flyers are only limited by their own abilities, so if you've got what it takes, you could soar high above the net here. In fact, motorsports athlete Travis Pastrana once soared over 80 feet above the ground when he visited the facility.
The popular international chain iFly Indoor Skydiving is opening a new location in Charlotte, North Carolina sometime in 2018, and although dates have not been set for the grand opening, construction for this new state-of-the-art facility is already well underway.
Once completed, iFly will welcome guests "from 3 to 103" who have reasonable health and fitness to enjoy a wind tunnel unlike any other in the state. However, fliers must weigh under 300 pounds and those with recent neck, back, or heart problems should consult a doctor before booking a flight.