Can iFLY?

IMG_8971I saw this deal on groupon for indoor skydiving at iFLY that I just couldn’t pass up. It came with instructions on how to fly, 1 minute of flying time, and 2 pictures to remember the experience. I quickly asked Katie if she would like to join me and we bought two deals. I couldn’t wait to schedule a time and within the up coming weeks I booked a time for both of us on a Sunday a little after noon.

Sunday finally arrived and Katie and I headed over to iFLY Hollywood, the indoor skydiving facility which is located behind the Hard Rock Cafe in Universal Studios CityWalk. iFLY has many other locations around the USA and even the world. Before we even had checked in we had a chance to see what was in store for us. As we approached we could see an instructor teaching his students to fly. Some stayed low while others went very high. The students ranged drastically. There was an older man that must have been in his 70’s or 80’s and a child about 4 years old. This is something that can be enjoyed at any age.

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We eventually went to the registration desk and checked in. The girl found our names and gave us our wrist bracelets. We were very early so we took a few minutes to watch the instructor put on a little performance and watch next group start their flights. We then walked around and explored CityWalk a bit.

2pm finally rolled around and we met our group and instructor, Jason, and headed into the debriefing/instruction room. There we watched a short video about what we were going to experience and how to fly. The video was amazing with people performing stunts upside-down and backwards, single and in groups of four or five. They were all having a great time. Then Jason came into join us and review the video. For body position it is best to fly with your arms out in front of you at eye level slightly bent, legs shoulder width apart slightly bend, back level, and head up. He told us about the hand signals we would need to know during our flight to help us get into the right position. Pointing up towards his chin meant raise your chin, two fingers bent in meant bend your legs, two fingers out straight meant straighten your legs, and a thumbs up meant doing great. He reminded us that small movements in the tunnel would change things dramatically so if we got any of those signals we should move slowly.

Next we headed to the locker room. Katie and I grabbed a locker and we put away anything that might fly loose during our flight which included our camera and phones. Jason had told us that it is no fun when something gets loose in the tunnel and whips past your face or hits your body. Then we got our full-body jumpsuits, earplugs and protective glasses. Lastly, we put on our helmets and then we were ready to fly.

We all walked to the tunnel outside. We walked in the side entrance to a seating area and took our seats to the left and right of the main tunnel door. There was a guy at the side entrance that took our pictures and controlled the wind speed at our instructor, Jason’s, request. Jason reviewed the hand signals one last time and then started at the far side of the benches. Most of our group had decided to spend the extra $10 to go high and we had hoped that there would be enough time at the end to decide if we wanted to give it another try for an additional $20. Katie and I had a price of $15 for that due to the groupon deal.

It was finally my turn and at the last minute I decided that I wanted to go high. I let Jason know by pointing to the sky and he nodded. I put my arms over my head and leaned into the 800 hp vertical wind tunnel that generates a wall-to-wall cushion of air. Jason caught me and guided me to the center of the tunnel as the air rushed past me. There he took a few moments guiding me into the correct position and then let go and I was flying on my own. The wind was pushing so hard that it was difficult to tell how much he had to help and correct, but after asking about it later I was told that there wasn’t much correction at all.

After what I’m guessing was a half minute or less, I forgot to look at the time clock I was so focused on what I was doing, Jason gave the signal to up the wind speed. He wrapped his arm around my legs and held onto one of my arms and up we went. The force of the wind grew considerably as we rose and fell weightlessly several times. By the third time I had drool coming out of my mouth and I giggled to myself about how Jason had said to keep your mouth closed. I just couldn’t help it. It was too much fun not to smile. But by the second to last time we rose and fell the rush of the wind was starting to make it difficult to breath through my nose. Probably something to do with my sinuses. I was glad my mouth was open and we were coming to the end.

The wind died down on Jason’s request and we sank to the bottom of the tunnel where he put his feet down and guided me out of the tunnel. I grabbed onto the edges of the door with my hands and lifted my feet toward my stomach so they would land on the edge. My one minute was over just like that. Everyone clapped, I got a few high fives and then it was Katie’s turn.

Katie did just as well as I did. She went high and her one minute was over within the same short time frame. We sat and watched the last couple people from our group. There were a few people that did amazing, where the instructor barely had to touch them, particularly this one early teenage boy and young mother in our group. There were others where the instructor was constantly readjusting and fixing, it often seemed to be the very big guy or very tall guy. I wonder if size matters on something like this.

Jason asked if anyone wanted to go again and one girl from our group took him up on the offer. She did great and we all watched. Then we followed Jason back into the locker room where we gave back our equipment and grabbed our own belongings from our lockers. Jason gave everyone a certificate where he marked how they did on their flight. Katie and I both got the majority of them checked off. He told us that next we would work on learning to move forward and backwards by bending and straightening our legs.

We left with smiles on our faces thinking about how this was not an average day. I mean really, when have you been able to fly in a wind tunnel? It was so much fun that I even thought about doing it again sometime. I only wish the normal pricing was a little bit cheaper because it is a little expensive. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for another groupon though.

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