• Chickster

What to Expect at iFly Austin

By Kelly

You know you’re writing an exciting post when the first thing you have to look up is the proper past tense of the word “skydive”. Turns out it’s “skydived” and not “skydove” like I’ve been saying all day.


Anyway, I skydived today…inside.


That’s right, because of a generous gift card from my sister-in-law and her husband, the hubby and I made a trip to iFly Austin today.


Have you done it yet? If not, it’s not what you expect.


Knowingly stepping into a wind tunnel didn’t sound fun to me. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to breathe or that it might disturb my year-old LASIK, so I upgraded to a full helmet just in case and to keep my cheeks from flapping.


But none of these things were a problem. It really was easy enough for ages 3 and up like it says in their FAQs.


But that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges or you won’t look ridiculous in your Stay Puft Marshmallow Man flight suit.


After you watch a short training video about hand signals and the correct flight position, you’ll sit on a bench and wait for your turn in a glass room, attached to the glass tube with the net floor that hangs above the vertical wind tunnel.


That moment while you’re waiting is a little scary, and so is the moment that you step into the tunnel and start to levitate due to that very strong, and very loud, column of air.

At first, I was extremely uncomfortable. I couldn’t keep both eyes open, it really was loud despite the spongy earplugs and it is hard to stay in the right flight position despite the helpful hand signals you keep forgetting to look for because you’re so overwhelmed and distracted by your strange new environment.


Two fingers wide means widen your legs. Really? I feel like I’m doing the splits.


Bent fingers means bend your legs. Straight fingers means strengthen your legs. Fingers spread means spread your fingers. And you're supposed to do all this while staying relaxed, somehow, though doing the skydiver position in Pilates every Saturday certainly helped.


I was so out of it in the middle, the control guy behind the glass had to get my attention and show me to pull my hands together in a volleyball-like set position, so I’d sink instead of float. I don’t remember that one from the training video, but it works.


So the first time was tough mentally, but for the second time—the “high flight”—I didn’t overthink it. I figured the guy was paid to keep me from hitting anything, and he was clearly good at his job. So I just floated.


That’s when it got fun. I didn’t notice the air or the noise the second time, and I’m pretty sure I had a permanent smile on my face. I also really enjoyed spinning and going high.


And the instructor was amazing. He was nice and fun and after we all took our turns, he showed us what he could really do in there. I can’t even describe it. At one point he hung upside down and spun around the glass tube and at another he did a back flip into a landing position outside the tube’s exit. It certainly made me want to come back and get better.


Anyway. It’s fun! Hope you give it a try sometime. Happy flying.

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