It’s been nearly twenty years since my husband, and I have jumped out of an airplane. It was an early tick on a daring bucket list for us both. Although our five-year-old daughter is years from that kind of adventure, we couldn’t resist taking her to iFly Indoor Skydiving Facility only days after it opened in Concord.
iFly is a perfect way to catch air without a parachute and experience the thrill of skydiving without actually jumping out of an airplane.
Fliers can start as young as age 3, with training and equipment provided on site.
iFly is a 48-foot vertical wind tunnel that replicates the free-fall experience of skydiving. However, flights take place solo (meaning, beginners are not strapped to anyone), but an instructor is in the tunnel guiding you.
We showed Audrey a video of a friend of hers who tried it at iFly in Atlanta the weekend prior and she couldn’t wait to experience it herself.
IT’S SO EASY A CHILD CAN DO IT
We booked our reservation and completed the waiver online. We added on a “high flight” where an instructor will hold onto you and take you higher up in the tunnel. We also purchased photos and videos.
When we arrive, we check in at the desk and are given a flight suit, helmet, goggles, and ear plugs. After suiting up, we enter a classroom and watch a video on safety and learn a few hand signals. It’s difficult to hear instructions in the wind tunnel, so the hand signals are an excellent way for the instructor to communicate with us.
As we were waiting for the previous group to finish, our instructor asks if anyone wants to go first. When no one volunteers, Audrey excitedly nudges me and says she wants to go first. “You’ll have to tell the instructor,” I say, and without hesitating she does.
THERE’S NOTHING TO IT
Audrey leads the way as our group enters the seating area that circles the tunnel. She bravely walks to the entrance and leans into the wind tunnel as her instructor reaches out to guide her. The wind simulator ranges from 70 to 90 miles per hour depending on a participants skill, weight and body position. Audrey follows the instructors hand signals and waves to her dad who is filming it nearby. For 90 seconds she floats with her arms stretched out, her body nimble and gleeful like she’s laying in a hammock on her stomach. When she exits the tunnel, her eyes elated, and her cheeks balled up in laughter as she throws her arms around me. Her heart had taken flight and in witnessing it, so had mine.
A GYM FOR THE SKY
iFly is fun to try recreationally or as a birthday party activity or on a date, but it’s also part of a growing sport known as body flight — you can take training classes. At the end of your flight, your instructor will do a demonstration of some really cool flips, twists and turns you could do in the tunnel.
Additionally, all-abilities nights are offered for those in the special needs community, including wounded warriors, autistic, blind or deaf flyers, and those who use wheelchairs.
Prices are based on the number of flights, starting at $69.95 for two flights. There’s also a package of 10 flights for up to five people to share for $299.95.
iFly Charlotte is located at 7840 Lyles Lane in Concord, near Great Wolf Lodge. Find them on their website, facebook, instagram, and YouTube.
Note: If you’ve ever had a dislocated shoulder, you are strongly advised not to participate in this activity.
iFly Video AMill from Tonya Miller on Vimeo.