Saturday, October 15, 2011

Extreme Sports -- iFLY Indoor Skydiving -- Tukwila, WA

What it Means to Fly
    Have you ever dreamed of flying? Not the kind of flying where you're encompassed by an airplane--flying where it's just you, up in the air--floating--falling, diving, rising--arms stretched out--feeling the wind against your face...Now there's a place where this dream can become your reality. At iFLY Indoor Skydiving, you will experience lift-off thanks to the fastest wind tunnel in the world, right here in Seattle.
    This is the kind of place that grabs hold of your attention and doesn't let go--we were so curious to learn more about iFLY after the short report done by Komo 4 News not long ago. We contacted iFLY and they were extremely accommodating, giving us a tour of the facility. This article is the compilation of our thrilling adventure, which will so easily become your own adventure. So, prepare to be amazed, and to learn that skydiving isn't something you just cross off your bucket list--it's a sport, and you can come back again and again. 
iFLY is hard to miss as you travel from SeaTac on I-405; it's right next to Southcenter Mall and the tallest, most unique looking building around

The Sport
    When we arrived at iFLY we expected to find an entertainment center, a place where people come to fly once and then tell their friends that they've done it, just like most people do with typical skydiving. Little did we know that we had just stepped into a skydiving arena. A place where avid skydivers come and practice their falls, their technique, and routines for skydiving competitions (yes skydiving competitions--this a competitive sport--we had no idea either!). 
    As we watched the flying instructors soar up and down the 50 ft tall wind chamber we realized that, just like birds, people have to train their body to stay in certain positions on the air to stay balanced; you don't just go into the wind tunnel with a Superman pose and take off. You have to actively fly by changing your position so you go where you want to and it's a work-out. Without a doubt, this is real flying; not just a simulator.

A video we took of a flying instructor who's gotten this good in only a few months; which means you can do it too

The Inspiration
    We met with the owners of iFLY Seattle, Bill and Lysa, and they told us that they have been big into skydiving for nearly 20 years. Lysa said that after the first time she went skydiving, she found herself going 120 mph on freeway from the adrenaline rush she was feeling. Her words of advice, "Make sure you have someone who wasn't skydiving do the driving."
    The couple said that when they first found out that vertical wind tunnels were going commercial, and weren't just serving as military training tools anymore, Lysa and Bill said to each other, "If only we could put one of those in our backyard!" So they did...basically. They said that their kids have gotten so good at the sport that Lysa says,"Sometimes I think they're better than me."
    The best part of the wind tunnel for flying enthusiasts is that the amount time one can fly lasts longer than a regular free-fall from a plane. When skydiving, the free-falling portion, before the parachute, is only about 45 seconds, but once you get good at the wind tunnel, you can fly for several minutes. People don't start out very long in the vertical wind tunnel, because if you do, you'll be pretty sore the next day. But once you've got it down, like the flying instructors do, your muscle memory and strength will allow you to fly longer and truly defy gravity.
Standing inside the flying tunnel with 50 feet of tunnel above, bouncy metal mesh below, and party room in the background--talk about a dream!

Changing Lives
    iFLY is not only a place to come for fun or sport, but a place to learn and a place where life changing events happen. In a matter of a couple short months, iFLY will begin their educational program, thanks to their education director. Groups of students will be able to come to iFLY on field trips and learn about the practical applications of subjects, like physics, in the real world. For instance, they will learn about terminal velocity and why differently shaped objects or differently weighted objects fall at different rates. Using the vertical wind tunnel as a tool, iFLY will be able to conduct demonstrations of these scientific principles. One of the best parts of the field trip will be that the students (elementary to high school) will also get the chance to fly, which as Lysa tells us, can easily be turned into a language arts assignment as the students write about their exhilarating experience flying.
Making Life Better 
    We found out that the very same day we got our tour of iFLY, a filming group had been there creating a documentary on a paraplegic's life. The gentleman had been an avid skydiver before an accident that made it impossible to move the lower half of his body. iFLY took up the challenge to help this man fly because this is a place where the staff wants to help anyone with an interest in flying get the chance to actually do it. They took the necessary steps to keep him as safe and balanced as possible. The man said that he felt a sense of independence that he hadn't experienced in years. This is extremely representative of iFLY's staff--truly caring individuals who want to make a difference in people's lives.
Everyone should go and try flying least once; if you get hooked, well, you may be back time and time again like this woman

Behind the Scenes
    While visiting, we had the opportunity to learn how this state of the art wind tunnel really works. We climbed up the side of the building through a series of four levels of ladders and platforms to get to the very top where we could see the four giant turbo jets up close and personal. These jets create the wind for your flying experience. All together, the four jets generate 2400 horsepower of energy (as a frame of reference, a car typically has 150-200 hp--so we're talking heavy duty power). This energy allows for winds up to 230 mph which lifts you onto a cushion of air, giving you the power to fly.
After scrambling up ladders we made it to the top of the building to find the fans that propel the wind for the tunnel and a bird's eye view on the body fliers

What This Means For You
    Many people who come to iFLY make comments like, "I just had a dream last night that I was flying--this is so cool--now I really am!" iFLY recently opened in the middle of August 2011, making it one of the greatest new inventions to come to Seattle in a long time. There are lots of different ways to experience it:
  1. You and your friends or family can make a visit to try flying for the first time. The price of admission includes the body suit, the instructors will give you lessons on the correct hand signals to use while flying, you'll be taught basic body positioning, and then fly.
  2. You can throw a party here--no matter what the age of the guests, iFLY has a party room and a wicked awesome flying tunnel for you and your guests to enjoy.
  3. You and your company can hold a corporate retreat here and use the wind tunnel for team building exercises. There's a large conference room available for experiences like this.
  4. You've gone skydiving before and you're ready to perfect your flying abilities, the instructors will actively work with you to achieve your goals.
  5. Get in touch with iFLY if you don't fit neatly into one of these boxes...we're pretty sure they'll work with you on what you're interested in doing:
A view from outside the tunnel and the seating area around the fly zone

Things To Know:
  • Ages 3-93 are welcome to fly
  • The first flight session is $60; after that it's $50 per session
  • There's plenty of space and seating to watch the fliers soar
  • If you're curious about the place, head on over to check it out and watch some other fliers in action
  • Find out what flying's really like
Such an adrenaline rush! You have got to try indoor skydiving for yourself!

Learn all about our flying experience HERE

See you in the sky!
Head on out Around Puget Sound...and Beyond

No comments:

Post a Comment