For those who consider themselves adrenaline junkies, speed is addictive. In terms of the fastest experiences you can have, unless you are a highly-trained military fighter pilot, moving at breakneck speed is limited to taking a commercial flight or speeding up to beat a traffic light.
But if you desire an unforgettable high-speed experience, there are actually many options available to you. Tourism companies around the world offer extreme encounters with rockets, jets, biplanes, and highly tuned sports vehicles to give you the ride of your life.
Danger is a big factor and one of the reasons these thrilling situations are so appealing to many people. Some experiences are more dangerous than others and often you will need to sign a legal waiver to allow you to take part. We have searched for the most exciting ways to get your much-needed dose of excitement, from screaming through the air in a 60-year-old Russian fighter jet, to launching out of the earth’s atmosphere in a 12-tonne rocket.
Jet Fighter Pilot for a Day
The Korean War was characterized by Russian-made aircraft engaging in thrilling dogfights with UN air forces. The most notorious example of this brutal air combat occurred on Black Thursday, when 30 MiG-15 jet fighters shot down 12 B-29 Superfortress bombers and suffered no losses.
The good news is you can actually fly as a copilot on one of these wonders of engineering without a pilot’s license. They take off from near Prague in the Czech Republic and the operating company, MiGflug, will even arrange a transfer from your hotel.
The legendary MiG-15 jet fighter, often described as a massive jet engine with a cockpit and wings attached was one of the most successful jet fighters ever. One Soviet fighter ace claimed to have shot down 21 enemy aircraft in one.
These machines can go faster than the speed of sound, but are unfortunately civilian registered, meaning that a supersonic joy flight is not on the cards. However during the MiGflug experience you will be able to actually take control of the MiG-15 and your veteran co-pilot will make sure you get the most out of the flight, performing looping, rolls, Immelmann turns and extreme high-speed low-level flying, pulling up to 5Gs.
Three companies offer flights that reach beyond the 62-kilometer border that defines the beginning of space: Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX. There are other companies that offer experiences such as zero gravity flights, in which a Boeing 727 flies in parabolic arches to allow those on board to experience weightlessness, or space-bound helium balloon rides which float high into the atmosphere while passengers sip on champagne. But for your dose of extreme speed and cutting-edge technology, a space flight is a brilliant option.
One of the newest and most ambitious forms of tourism, space flights offer tickets to those with enough money to reach orbit. Virgin Galactic gets up to 80 kilometers above the earth, Blue Origin allows tourists to fly above 100 kilometers altitude but SpaceX reaches the furthest by far, a dizzying 579 kilometers above the earth, further than the Hubble space telescope.
A recent flight, the first to take off from US soil, was organized by a space tourism company, Axiom, using a SpaceX spacecraft. It will visit the International Space Station, where the four passengers will conduct scientific experiments and break bread with the astronauts living on the station.
Another US company, Orbital Assembly, is planning to build two orbiting hotels by 2027, both designs enable those on board to experience artificial gravity and resemble giant spinning wheels. Voyager station will accommodate up to 400 people and Pioneer station will be able to fit just 28 guests, but the company says Pioneer may be completed by 2025.
The Himalayas are a life-changing destination as sky-high mountains tower over desolate valleys and pass. Just to get to the base of Mount Everest you must complete a 62-kilometre trek through the inhospitable landscape at extreme altitude which usually takes about five days.
But why come to such an amazing and adventurous place if you don’t intend to live a little? Everest Skydive offers clients the opportunity to jump out of an AS350 B3 helicopter at 7,620 meters altitude, just a little bit below the height of Everest. Then soak up the spectacular scenery on your way to 4,870 meters where you will open your 37-meter parachute, which is required at these altitudes due to the air pressure.
Float down and land at the drop point 3,760 meters above sea level in a traditional Nepalese sherpa settlement. The views are truly mind-blowing and will satisfy your craving for adventure. Skydiving Mount Everest is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and one you will not readily forget.
Nevis Bungy Jump
Hop aboard the 4WD Bungy Bus leaving from the Queenstown Bungy center and try not to faint as you wind your way along the hair-raising clifftop tracks of New Zealand before you arrive at your destination, a platform suspended 134 meters above the Nevis River.
Your friends can accompany you to “The Pod” to help you take the plunge, and you will need the emotional support as the Nevis Bungy jump is the third highest in the world.
Make sure you haven’t just eaten as the very scary 8.5-second upside-down free fall will test your stomach. The helpful crew will go to great lengths to take some amazing videos and photos to document the experience, they know all the best angles and are highly experienced Bungy jumpers themselves.
Safety is, of course, the top priority and has pushed people off the edge for 34 years, Nevis Bungy makes sure you go home okay, heart pumping and breathing hard, but in one piece.
Nurburgring Taxi Ride
Step into a powerful BMW M3 and test your nerves around the famous Nurburgring Nordschleife racetrack near Stuttgart, Germany. Careen around the famous track at high speeds as, corners, hills, and straights test your nerves. But don’t worry, the drivers are highly experienced professionals and adept at keeping you in one piece.
You will receive a USB stick at the end of the ride with a video of the entire experience, from the inside of the car to a passenger view. It also records your biometrics, speed, G forces, and some photos of your drive. Select from a range of performance cars to ride along in, including a Lamborghini Gallardo, Ferrari 458 Italia, or Porsche 991 GT3.
Any of the cars available will make for a thrilling ride, but the Nurburgring Nordschleife is the real star of the show. Blaze through 20 kilometers of beautiful German forest over the endless graffiti on the track and admire just how difficult and fast a track it is, testing the engineering of your BMW and the skill of your driver at every turn.
The first thing to know about a wingsuit flight is that there is a lengthy accreditation process and a huge amount of experience gathering required to legally attempt one. Most countries require a certain amount of skydives before you can attempt one with a wingsuit, but, if you have always felt the urge to fly, there is nothing that comes close.
The wingsuit works like the skin between the arms and legs of a flying squirrel, providing wind resistance to allow the wingsuit to “glide” at speeds of up to 250 km/h. The casualty rate for normal skydiving is one in 100,000 jumps, while for wingsuit diving, there is one death every 500 jumps.
Various countries have different requirements for a wingsuit flight, so you will need to research the requirements of where you plan to attempt your dive. The US requires 200 standard skydives before you attempt a wingsuit flight. You then have to complete an accredited course, as well as purchase the wingsuit itself, you can buy it used or rent it as well, but a brand new one should be more reliable.
When you get out of your seat on a commercial flight to have a stretch, the last thing you could imagine doing is exiting the fuselage and taking a walk on the wings, but the death-defying act has a long and dangerous history. Barnstorming aerial shows of the 1920s featured wing walkers and Charles Lindberg was one of its trailblazers, he used to undertake the petrifying stunt in his early years.
These days, wing walking is a lot safer than 100 years ago and many wing walks are done for charity. The Wing Walk Company offers the thrilling experience of a Boeing Stearman which takes off from Kent in the UK. During the flight, you climb out of the two-person biplane and up onto the top wing where a harness is set up to allow you to stand on top of the airplane and take in the view as you hurtle through the sky at up to 177 km/h.
You can even purchase an HD video with commentary from your pilot to document your walk. The aircraft was built in 1942 and was originally designed for pilot training in WW2, so you will have to communicate via hand signals. According to the Civil Aviation Authority wing walkers must weigh no more than 85 kilograms, so unless you are a bit shorter, the experience may make a better gift for a wife, girlfriend or grown-up child and vouchers can be purchased as well.
This article originally appeared on Fancy and do not necessarily represent the views of australiaexploring.com