Traveler's Almanac, 1999 Annual Travel Guide
On the Fly
The only sane response to the idea of climbing into a flying squirrel suit and swooping around inside a silo-shaped building a couple of stories above a mammoth, 1,000-horsepower fan should be terrified ridicule. But watch the pros at Flyaway Indoor Skydiving do it, and it looks to be the hottest trend since cloud surfing. Indoor skydiving originated as a cheap, safe way to introduce people to the real thing. It's done in what's essentially a vertical wind tunnel, with wind speeds up to 115 mph. There are two facilities in the U.S., Las Vegas (702-731-4768) and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee (423-453-7777). Do you fall? Yes, onto a bouncy mesh screen. Does it hurt? A little, but it sure beats smacking into Kansas. — Jeff Greenwald
Travelers, be advised: Tokyo's biggest little ski mountain doesn't have night skiing. Then again, it doesn't have night. Or spring, summer, or fall, for that matter. It's always winter inside the walls of SkiDome, the indoor ski hill 30 minutes outside of Tokyo that looks a lot like a sideways grain elevator on steroids. The structure is a uniquely Japanese remedy for a sport dependent on weather: Just zap weather out of the equation.
Managers of the mammoth five-year-old structure, which has inspired several others throughout ski-crazy, slope-starved Japan, also offer a simple solution to the age-old skier versus snowboarder debate: Boards are allowed on the mountain until noon, skis only afterward. A full range of rental gear is available, and lift tickets cost about $55 for two hours.
Skiers and boarders can choose one of two trails, the longest of which drops 262 feet over about a quarter mile. Both have firmly refrigerated snow underfoot and snow sprinklers overhead. Visitors say the snow quality is okay, thanks to this mountain's constant "room" temperature — about 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
It sounds intriguing, but don't try this at home. Even if you could fit your Rossis into the deep freeze, you'd probably wipe out on the pork chops and peas. Especially after the lid slams and shuts off that little light. — Ron C. Judd
Copyright 1998, Outside magazine