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Daredevils take flight in Delta

Katie Botica, 9, goes up in the wind tunnel for her birthday with Fly Zone Bodyflight operations manager Shane Tully. - Boaz Joseph / The Leader
Katie Botica, 9, goes up in the wind tunnel for her birthday with Fly Zone Bodyflight operations manager Shane Tully.
— image credit: Boaz Joseph / The Leader

When author Douglas Adams quipped that the knack to flying is to throw yourself at the ground and miss, he hadn’t seen the Fly Zone Bodyflight’s wind tunnel.

The Fly Zone offers a controlled environment where people of almost any age can soar without the fear of stepping out of a plane or diving off a high platform.

The facility opened in Tilbury last winter.

Participants are suited up in a body suit, helmet, and ear plugs – the wind tunnel is loud – before watching a trained instructor demonstrate the proper position to start their flight.

One at a time, they lay on the perforated floor of the acrylic tube with arms spread and legs back and out. As the rush of wind and noise increases they are lifted into the air and quickly realize there is more to maintaining balance and control than meets the eye. A trainer stays on hand in the wind tunnel to ensure the participants stay steady – grins plaster most faces that are pushed wider by the force of the airstream.

Owner Peter Zaoralek calls the experience “exhilarating,” and has wanted to bring the activity to all ages since seeing a wind tunnel 12 years ago in Europe.

“At the time there were only a few wind tunnels in the world, and many of them were indoors,” he says, adding most were originally designed to train skydivers.

Since then he has visited 13 other wind tunnels to learn about the technology. His portable, outdoor wind tunnel is the only one of its kind in Canada, he says.

Most of his staff are avid skydivers, although he is not.

“I’m someone who’s looking at it from a different perspective, looking at it from the fact that we can bring the sport to all age groups from five-years-old and up.”

While it’s safe enough for an adventurous five-year-old, the company says it will work all your muscle groups, particularly your core.

“It’s low impact, it’s a lot of fun, and you’ll feel it tomorrow – it’s like a full cardio workout,” says Zaoralek.

Fly Zone plans to take the equipment to large events, a few to be announced soon, he says.

“We’re also looking at building a second machine just for the events side, we can keep the other one here in Vancouver.”

While the Fly Zone hasn’t been open long, Zaoralek says response has been huge due to advertising – they are often booked weeks or months ahead.

He said he chose the Tilbury location, not far east of Deas Island Regional Park, because it’s close to his manufacturing suppliers.

“We’re looking at manufacturing these for international sale, so a lot of my suppliers are in the Tilbury area and Richmond.”

For more information visit www.flyzone.ca

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