By Grace Huseth
It’s not the latest phone, but it’s the latest in skydiving thrills. iFLY opened in Atlanta last November and has been booked solid ever since.
iFLY is a vertical wind tunnel used by professional skydivers to practice their skills. While it doesn’t create the stomach-in-your-throat feeling of jumping from a plane, the sensation of balancing on air has to be experienced to truly be understood, plus you won’t have to feverishly burp you way down like in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
“Clean running electric engines and the most advanced propellers draw air up through the flight chamber and create a smooth cushion of air,” said operations manager Ebonee Clarke. “We can adjust the air to be perfect for each person who is flying.”
iFLY has nearly 30 locations in the states, including the futuristic building at I-75 and Cobb Parkway. The increase and popularity of these wind tunnels has created a whole new genre of sport, bodyflight, which includes freestyle and formation flying.
While skydiving requires you to step out of an airplane at more than two miles above the ground and can cost over $300, iFLY gives you a taste of skydiving for less than half the cost. The ‘Earn Your Wings’ package includes two, one-minute flights for $69.95 and the ‘Spread Your Wings’ package includes four flights for $109.95.
Watching other fliers while awaiting your departure time builds anticipation. After checking in, the flight deck viewing offers a perfect spot for to watch people taking their flights. Then, a certified instructor will provide preflight training instruction on the proper body position for flying and the hand signals the instructors will use to guide you. The last step is to gear up with a helmet, flight suit and goggles and enter the flight chamber.
The flights do fly by. The first flight is focused, taking the advice of the instructor who is tweaking your body position. By the time I was in the perfect diamond shape, I was only floating for a few seconds before the allotted minute was up.
For the second flight, you are ready to try to fly independently. I kept my chin up, literally, and started to understand the minute adjustments needed to balance, not unlike floating in water. However, I really took off when the instructor took me on a high flight, for an additional $10, where I spun like I was on an antigravity merry-go-round to nearly the top of the wind tunnel.
Afterwards, our instructor was able to show off his skills. Ryan Schorer is a former professional skydiver with experience in 40 person formations. iFLY cranked the fan up 100 percent, or about 120-miles-per-hour, and Schorer demonstrated the art of air walking, tilting his feet ever so slightly to shoot up to the top of the tunnel.
iFLY offers flight packages so anyone can take up bodyflight as a competitive sport. Return flyers can purchase coaching packages to learn new techniques for $229.95 for 10 flights. While you are training to fly like Superman, iFLY is busy creating league nights which will cater to experienced flyers, first time flyers, special needs flyers and kids so everyone can be blown away.
For more about iFLY, visit iflyworld.com/atlanta.