Tag Archives: Groupon

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.

5K Night Nation Run

IMG_8973On groupon there are a ton of 5K runs. I had decided that I wanted to give one a try so I reached out to a bunch of my friends as soon as I saw that the Night Nation Run 5K was on groupon. A few of my friends quickly jumped on the chance and we signed up for what looked like one of the most fun 5Ks in the area.

As the day approached I reached out to my friends again. Turned out we were all planning on taking our own cars to Pomona, CA. Katie and me in our car, Arpy and her 2 friends in their car, Caroline and her friend in another car, and Nich and Bob in their own car. The day came and Katie and I headed out. I was a little worried we wouldn’t get there in time and that we wouldn’t be able to find everyone. Luckily, we got there with plenty of time to spare. We were one of the first cars let into the parking lot and we were the first of our group to arrive. We parked our car, got our bibs, shirts, and glow sticks and started to explore the area.

As we waited we learned that the event itself was linked to Stand Up 2 Cancer. They were selling t-shirts, tank tops, and all different accessories to help support the cause. We moved to the main area, surrounded by food and drink stands. We took some time to get some free stuff at the booths around the edges and even took our first Night Nation Run selfie.  As we patiently waited we made our way to the stage and enjoyed the pre-party DJ. We danced, jumped, and just took in the moment not caring about anything at all.

Eventually, Caroline and her friend showed up, got their bibs and headed straight to the start line. Katie and I tried to decide which to do, wait for Arpy and Nich or get in line. We finally chose to wait as they sounded like they were going to be there very soon. The run started and we watched everyone run out of the start line and through the beginning of the course. We made our way back to the registration where it would be easier for our friends to find us.

Arpy and Nich were taking forever so we changed our minds and started our run. We snuck in from the parking lot and walked the course stopping along the way at every small DJ station and any Selfie photo booth we saw. We slowly making our way to the end, taking our time since as Arpy said that her group was running and would catch up to us.

Arpy never caught up to us, Caroline rushed through the course, and Nich never made it out of the party zone. By the time we got to the end where the main party was, it was over. I was sad to see it end and couldn’t help wondering why they hadn’t made the party longer. It just seemed too short to me and I was semi upset we had missed the main event even though we were the first ones to arrive. Next time, I’m not waiting for anyone.

On a side note Katie and I got some amazing pictures of the pre-party and at the photo booths throughout the course. I know if we had just ran straight through we would have missed the black light booth for sure. It was fun to just have some free time to hang out with Katie and gather as many glow sticks from the ground that I could possibly find. I would definitely do it again in a heartbeat, maybe even their next event in Los Angeles on October 24th.

Flying High with Jetpack America

IMG_8973For Christmas my parents bought me an amazing gift of flying at Jetpack America. They have locations in Newport Beach, San Diego, and Las Vegas. I decided that Newport Beach or San Diego would be closest and that I should go to one of those. I waited through the winter for spring when the ocean water would start to warm up a bit. I finally booked my flight at the last minute with only a few weeks left in May before my Groupon expired.

I called Jetpack America’s office and booked my flight. I was told to arrive an hour before my flight for my debriefing and to bring my bathing suit, a wetsuit if I had one, a towel, sunscreen, and anything else I thought I might need after going in the water. They sent me an online waiver and directions to the parking below the building next door.

The day of my flight arrived and I was super excited. I grabbed my bag and checked to see if there was anything else last minute I might need. I headed to Newport Beach, parked, and finally found the place right in the marina. I walked into the shop a little anxious and was warmly welcomed. I showed the guy at the front my Groupon and was quickly guided to their debriefing area that had already started with some other flyers going on a flight sooner than mine.

They finished their debriefing and left for their flight. The girl then showed me and another guy a video and started our tutorial about the controls of the jetpack. We practiced sitting in the jetpack, holding the controls level and tilting to the left and right. The controls are very sensitive and you barely needed to move the controls to turn, only need a millimeter of change in the positioning moves the jetpack in any direction you wish. The controls are not super light though so I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to hold them up for the entire 15 mins, which would affect my flight for sure.

After our tutorial we headed down to the dock. Unfortantely they don’t allow you to bring your phone, but since I went second I had an opportunity to see how they strap you in, safety features of how to get out, where you fly, and the slight movements you need to make in order to make the turns by watching the guy go. 20 minutes later it was my turn to get strapped in and give it a try.

With my lifejacket,  wetsuit, and 30lb jetpack all on and ready to go I timidly jumped off the dock and into the water. I practiced a few times of righting myself, since when the pack is not in motion it floats and pushes you under the water, and then I was ready to fly. I spun myself around and the jetski crew member there to help me pushed on the throttle for my first chance at getting out of the water.

As he pushed on the throttle I kept my arms level with the water. We started low allowing my legs to drag through the water so that I could get the feel of the controls. It was hard to keep them level and my left arm kept dropping a little which made me turn left. I struggled to make it right and eventually got them level. As time went by my crew member pushed me higher and higher. I got out of control a bit and the crew member cut the power. I fell back into the water with a big splash, righted myself and was ready to give it another try.

By the end of my flight I was getting pretty high, hovering above about 20 ft above the water. It was scary, exciting, crazy and nerve wracking. The higher you go the more sensitive the controls become and the harder it is to keep yourself level. As my time winded down and the traffic in the marina picked up I had to zigzag my way back to the dock through all the boats. It was insane how many obstacles there were in my path, but I made it safely practicing my left and right turns and going straight above the water.

When I reached the dock I sat back in my jetpack and unbuckled the straps. I swam to the dock and another crew member helped me up. I walked up the dock and back to the shop. I dried off, changed into my clothes, got my diploma and said goodbye to the crew.

The crew at Newport Beach’s Jetpack America was absolutely amazing. Everyone was super friendly, helpful, and supportive throughout my entire experience. Flying was a lot harder than I expected it to be, but it’s something that anyone can do as strength does not matter. It’s more finesse. Even kids can try it with the younger ones tandem riding to get there first thrills.

Jetpack flying was definitely a great experience and unlike anything else. I’ll never forget looking down at the water below me as I rose higher and higher. I know with practice and more flying time it will become easier and easier and more and more fun as I take complete control of running the jetpack, both steering and throttle, and begin to learn different tricks, such as the submarine, spinning, and diving.