Wind tunnel blasts off in Kakaako

May. 23, 2014 | 0 Comments
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COMA TOURIST TRIES OUT THE NEW WIND TUNNEL ATTRACTION AT THE GROOVE IN KAKAAKO ON TUESDAY.

CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

A TOURIST TRIES OUT THE NEW WIND TUNNEL ATTRACTION AT THE GROOVE IN KAKAAKO ON TUESDAY. WIND SPEEDS IN THE MACHINE REACH UP TO 140 MILES PER HOUR.

BY STEVEN MARK / smark@staradvertiser.com

Send your spirits soaring — along with your arms, legs, head and entire body — at The Groove Hawaii.

The family entertainment center in Kakaako is opening a vertical wind tunnel that allows you to hover in midair, supported only by wind blowing at about 140 mph.

Local media got a chance to try it out Tuesday, and it left all of us feeling exhilarated, if not a bit relieved when we touched solid ground again.

THE AUTHOR TRYING OUT THE NEW WIND TUNNEL ATTRACTION AT THE GROOVE IN KAKAAKO ON TUESDAY.

THE AUTHOR TRYING OUT THE NEW WIND TUNNEL ATTRACTION AT THE GROOVE IN KAKAAKO ON TUESDAY.

Instructor John Suiter gave a 15-minute introduction to the experience, showing us how to get into the proper flying position — arms spread, hands slightly above head level, legs spread with knees slightly bent, head up and hips out. He also showed us the hand signals he would use to tell us how to keep under control while in the wind tunnel. It’s too loud in there for voice commands.

Then we donned flight suits, helmets and goggles, for a one-minute flight. That seems short, but it’s typical for the freefall part of an introductory skydive. What’s more important, it provided plenty of thrills.

With Suiter and another instructor’s help, the experience turned out to be about as easy as falling off a surfboard. When the fan revs up, you get into position and fall forward. The instructors lift your legs, easing you into flight position, and with a few gentle pulls and pushes, keep you centered inside the wind tunnel.

With your cheeks blubbering in the wind, the trick is to get into a balanced position, the wind blowing evenly across your body, and you can float in midair. A slight movement with an arm or leg changes the airflow, however, and could send you flying toward the wall. The instructors are there to prevent a collision.

Suiter and a colleague also gave a demonstration of some advanced maneuvers, doing flips and spins and sitting in midair. All of these moves can be learned in the wind tunnel. It’s just a matter of learning to manipulate the airflow with your body.

The wind tunnel opens to the general public on May 23. Cost is $66.50 for two minutes of flying (flights are in one-minute intervals), $94.50 for four minutes of flight, with discounts available for groups and experienced flyers.

The Groove Hawaii is located at 805 Ala Moana Blvd. and is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Call (808) 660-9188.

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