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Thrill-seekers can find fun up in the air across Texas


Ready for a new adventure? Think up — as in zip lining, skydiving (from an airplane or indoors), swinging on a trapeze or Flyboarding.

Texas has an abundance of ways to get your thrills — with your feet off the ground. Why not try something out of your comfort zone?

Each of these activities involves minimum risk for people of average fitness. Just bring a sense of adventure and a willingness to try something new. The best part: You’ll gain self-confidence — and bragging rights — for your accomplishments.

Zip lines: Get your thrills at this popular activity offered by companies such as Lake Travis Zipline Adventure, Cypress Valley Canopy Tours and Wimberley Zipline Adventures. Each offers a little different experience, but all guarantee an exciting, rather than scary, ride along a metal cable through outstanding natural landscapes.

Soar over canyons, streams, hills or lakes or through a forest of old-growth cypress trees on any of these Hill Country zip lines. Take in scenic panoramas (be sure to look out instead of down) while whizzing along wire cables of various lengths — up to a half-mile long. Some zip lines feature an automatic braking system, while others require you to apply pressure to the cable for stopping as you approach the landing. Either way, this is the perfect family adventure if children are at least 8 years old. (Some have weight restrictions, so be sure to check beforehand.)

Skydiving: This is the ultimate exhilaration. Many people fear this activity, but it’s more a matter of perception than actual danger. Providers in Dallas, Lexington and San Marcos offer tandem skydiving so you can enjoy the flight while leaving technicalities (when to pull the cord, for example) to the expert strapped on your back.

As you flow through cool air above the clouds there’s really no sound; it’s eerily quiet and peaceful. Although skydivers free fall around 5,000 feet in 40 seconds, there’s little awareness of downward movement. If the outfitter you jump with provides a videographer, as many do, you’ll be distracted by waving at the camera. All too soon, you’ll feel a gentle tug as the jump master deploys the parachute and you begin drifting slowly to the landing zone. Catch your breath during this relaxing time and survey the open landscape below. Tandem jumping is ideal for a first skydiving outing; just rev up your sense of adventure and go. Age 16 is generally a minimum.

Indoor Skydiving: Can’t wrap your head around jumping out of an airplane? Try the simulated sky diving experience at iFLY, an indoor activity in several cities including Austin that accepts children as young as age 3.

In the wind tunnel a wall-to-wall vertical column of air lifts participants and allows them to move in various ways. It’s a way to have the feeling of skydiving while in a safe, enclosed environment — no actually falling. Each flight within the wind tunnel (with an instructor) lasts 60 seconds, but you can book more than one. Just as for a free fall, you feel the wind in your face and have the sensation of floating on air.

Flyboarding: Strap a board on your feet and rise on a stream of propelled water above beautiful Lake Travis. Flyboards are platforms with boots that you put on before being towed by a personal water craft (like a wave runner) from the dock to the lake. The PWC provides propulsion through a long flexible hose attached to the Flyboard jets. The instructor controls the amount of thrust while the rider controls direction.

Once you get the knack of lifting your body from a prone position out of the water, you can soar above the surface. Learning how to maneuver turns before plunging back into the water does take a bit of practice. When you’ve mastered that skill, you can work toward propelling yourself high enough to perform flips and other tricks. There’s no age limit for this brand of fun, but there’s a minimum weight requirement of 80 pounds.

Trapeze: If you’ve ever admired aerial circus performers flying through the air in their sparkling costumes, you might enjoy sampling the excitement in a trapeze class. There’s typically no age limit, but some flexibility is helpful. You can go all out or limit your activity to swinging from the trapeze.

During a two-hour class you’ll practice first on a floor-anchored bar. Each participant wears a safety belt that is tethered to the apparatus, and there’s a large net into which you’ll drop after performing tricks on the trapeze. The class culminates with participants (some of them, anyway) actually flying from a trapeze and getting caught by a hunky acrobat on another trapeze at the opposite end of the apparatus. What a thrill!



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