Hurling yourself out of a plane two miles up in the sky with only gravity and a parachute standing between you and the ground might not sound like a vertigo sufferer’s idea of a good afternoon, but for millions of thrill-seekers prepared to go the distance, there’s no white-knuckle experience quite like it.
You'll ask yourself the big questions, such as 'How tiny does everything look from up here?' 'Is that the sea?' And, that old classic, 'is this really happening?'
Luke Aikins successfully achieves Plane Swap
On April 24 Luke Aikins and Andy Farrington’s attempt at a first-ever Plane Swap was partially accomplished.
You never know where it might lead. Professional basejumper Luke Aikins first found his wings with a tandem jump, and look at him now. He recently jumped out of a plane in mid-air, entered another one and then landed it. Check out the video above.
While you should clearly leave the piloting to the pros, skydiving is for everybody age 16 and up. Some further age limits, along with weight (BMI index-allowing) and other medical restrictions, may apply.
Expect to pay between €250 and €350 for a one-day skydiving package. This may increase with hire fees for gear and what not - a small price to pay for one of the most thrilling days on (and off) earth.
Here are the best places to skydive in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Irish Skydiving Club, Co. Kilkenny
Where: Kilkenny Airport Airfield Road, Holdensrath
Contrary to Fight Club, the first rule of Irish Skydiving Club is that you talk about Irish Skydiving Club. Such is the fun to be had among the clouds some 10,000ft over Kilkenny, tell everyone you can in fact. A non-profit club with two GA8 Airvan Aircraft to get you into the skies, the tandem skydiving packages here fairly affordable (think €255 euros for an off-peak tandem skydive) via the website. Best of all: for those worried they might not go through with it, there’s an option to pay a third up front and the rest of the fee at a later date. You know, just to settle those nerves.
Where to stay:
A 20 minute drive on the other side of Kilkenny lies the sprawling 170 acre Lyrath Estate, which is teeming with wildlife, lush forest. Inside its 17th century estate house-cum-hotel you'll find 'period drama' elegance with a modern twist reflected in the little touches in the rooms right up to the sleek spa, gym and swimming pool. There's a great restaurant on site, and if you even fancy more adventure post-skydive, it's possible to try your hand at falconry and biking without leaving the grounds. Whatever you get up to, there's no better place to rest your head.
Irish Parachute Club, Offaly
Where: Clonbullogue Airfield, Clonad, Clonbullogue, Co. Offaly
Look up at the skies over Offaly and you might see someone hurtling towards earth at speeds of up to 200km/h. Set up in 1956 by veteran paratrooper Freddie Bond (he definitely knew something about Skyfall), the Irish Parachute Club is also home of the highest Tandem Jumps in Ireland (13,000ft), and with a skydiving school on site you can learn from some of the best instructors in the business. Before you know it you’ll be climbing into the sky aboard a 10-seater airplane before taking on a solo jump. On a clear day there are few more idyllic spots to skydive from. Barely an hour's drive drive from Dublin, you can sign up for a tandem skydive at 13,000ft for €335.
Where to stay:
Sat on the doorstep of Slieve Bloom Mountains nature reserve, there's plenty of adventure to be had when staying at the Heritage Hotel, found just half an hour's drive from Clonbullogue Airfield. The view you'll get on a good hike around this part of Co. Laois is gorgeous - as is the hotel itself, which boasts an adjacent golf course, spa, swimming pool and even a private cinema. Elsewhere, Blake's restaurant offers all kinds of tasty grub made from locally-sourced artisan ingredients that'll have you coming back for more.
We Are Vertigo (indoor), Belfast
Tempted to try your hand at skydiving but want to get some practice in first? Thanks to We Are Vertigo, located in Belfast’s glittering Titanic Quarter, you can enjoy the full on force of the drop zone indoors. With 190km/h winds propping you up in mid-air, you can get accustomed to the movement of wind resistance and even hone your technique until you’re ready for the real thing. It's also great to do with friends. As the company says itself: ‘Our experienced instructors will guide you every step of the way in the tunnel, helping you soar through each second using your body to improve your flight experience. We put a lot in, so you can get the most out of your flight time.’
Where to stay:
Take your pick. Befitting one of Europe's buzziest capital cities, Belfast is not short of quirky places to check into. But you've got a city to explore, dammit, and you want to do this by the book, so why not opt for the Bullit Hotel, so named after Steve McQueen's maverick cop from the film of the same name? Boasting some incredibly generous rates and cool design, it's currently undergoing some work with plans to open back up very soon. Until then, why not push the, ahem, boat out with a stay in the rather plush Titanic Hotel, which packs in awe-inspiring history, comfort and fine dining in equal measure. Located directly in front of Vertigo's indoor skydiving centre, ensure breakfast is fully digested before you head over.