If you were a child in the 70s, there were three films that you would have seen.
This was in the age before Internet, DVDs, Netflix or films on demand, so that in order to see a film you actually had to get off the sofa and traipse off to the local cinema, so going to the pictures was a proper occasion. Seventies kids therefore saw “Star Wars” – and lights sabered each other in the foyer afterwards, “Grease” singing loudly along with John Travolta and Olivia Neutron Bomb, and “Superman”.
One of the things that I distinctly remember about going to see the later was the fact that not only my mum but also all the other mums came to the cinema with us. Normally one longsuffering adult would have to be in charge of half a dozen nine-year-olds. With Superman, however, is while the nine-year-olds believed a man could fly, the Mums all believed that Christopher Reeve looked pretty damn good in a cape. It was, if you like, the “Aquaman” of its time.
Since then, however, I haven’t had any great yearning to take to the sky. I’m not good with heights, so abseiling, bungee jumping, hang gliding and the like leave me cold – or sweaty palmed to be precise. Even rock climbing scenes in films make me turn pale. Little wonder, then, that I have absolutely no desire to skydive. Let’s be honest, with my track record with all things mechanical, especially transport, going up in a light aircraft is never going to be a good idea.
When I got the invitation to go and check out Fly 4 Real, southern Spain’s first outdoor skydive simulator, I was intrigued. Rather than leaping out of a plane, you are kept aloft in a wind tunnel. It’s somewhat like being in a huge hairdryer, although obviously it’s been years since I was near one of those. So I headed up to Campillos, about an hour from Marbella, to the excellent KartingCenter Campillos, where the simulator is based.
The founders at Fly 4 Real include former Red Devils – the British Army’s crack parachute display team – who purchased the equipment after using it to train Tom Cruise for the film ‘Mission Impossible: Fallout’. Tom, by the way, is apparently totally professional, very friendly and has a penchant for practical jokes. And the ex Paras I spoke to gave pop pipsqueak Justin Beiber no chance if he does step into a MMA ring with him…
After a safety briefing and the donning of a rather natty flying suit, although I had brought the wrong shoes and had to have my Moroccan sandals duct taped to my ankles – a look that won’t catch on – it was time to climb into the wind tunnel with my instructor and fly.
While I didn’t soar like Superman, I didn’t bounce of the bottom of the wind tunnel in a crumpled heap and if nothing else, the upward blast gave me the most thorough facial treatment in years.
Although I was more Christopher Biggins than Christopher Reeve, you could believe a (small, bald, 50-something) man could fly!