When iFLY Austin reached out to me allowing the opportunity to conquer my fear of flying, I immediately accepted. iFLY Austin has been in Austin for nearly 5 years and anyone older than 3 years old can try it. What stood out to me about iFLY is that they look past any physical disabilities. Flyers of all abilities are welcome at iFLY.
Almost everyone can agree they have had a dream of flying and iFLY makes that dream come true. The indoor skydiving facility at iFLY Austin replicates the experience of “freefall” that allows one to fly in the unique tunnel. iFLY Austin Sales Manager Veronica Lee Guzik says she started working for iFLY because she was a sky diver, grew up flying airplanes and jumping out of them. “Experiencing body flight is such an amazing feeling having been a ‘flight enthusiast’ most of my life. I’m always amazed how our technology creates a true body flight experience – and it’s safe for kids and adults!”
Have you been dreaming of flying like Superman? You can with the unique tunnel process. iFLY wind tunnels are powered by “four clean running electric motors (Tall and Medium tunnels – Short tunnels have two fans) which drive four of the most efficient propellers available to create a smooth cushion of air than can support anyone from the age of 3 to 103. Inside the tunnel building, air is pushed down the side of the building in Return Air Tower and then directed up from the basement through turning vanes. These vanes are filled with chilled water to provide a consistent, comfortable airflow in any climate. After going through the turning vanes, the air goes into the inlet contractor that compresses the air, speeding it up and forcing it into the flight chamber where people fly. The cable net floor in the wind tunnel (on which the instructors stand on) is made from aircraft quality stainless steel wiring and can hold up to 10,000 pounds.” For the record, the average weight of an adult African elephant is 5 tons, which is equivalent to 10,000 pounds!
I had the opportunity to try iFLY for myself and the experience was unbelievable. For someone who has a great fear of heights, falling, or anything high up, I can personally say it’s a gratifying feeling going into the tunnel (just don’t look down).
Once you enter the tunnel your instructor is there guiding you and instructing you with hand signals you covered in the video at the beginning of the class. You get two, one minute flying sessions in the tunnel. It doesn’t seem like much time at first, but when there are 100 mph winds blowing you around, it’s quite a long time. Flying around in the tunnel was a blast (be sure to look at the pictures; I had a smile on my face the entire time) and I would definitely do it again. The feeling that you’re flying and able to glide around the tunnel is surreal. You’re required to wear a jumpsuit, helmet, goggles, and earplugs that they provide and your own lace-up shoes.
iFLY isn’t just an adrenaline rush, it’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program is great for beating “brain-drain” during the summer. The program uses iFLY’s vertical wind tunnels to explain the science of wind to kids through tunnel demonstrations in winds of 125 mph, equal to the force of an EF-2 tornado, without the rotation, of course! Despite the strong winds, safety is a paramount at iFLY. Every flyer is assisted by a specially-trained and certified flight instructor during their flight, regardless of experience.
iFLY Austin recently partnered with DeafBlind Camp of Texas empowering people with all abilities a chance to fly in the tunnel. Truly any one can fly, all ages, all abilities can make their dream of flight a reality with their technology. “iFLY All Abilities is an indoor skydiving program aimed at providing an encouraging experience to those with varying physical and mental abilities, in an inclusive environment with flyers of all ages, skills, and abilities. In honor of All Abilities April, iFLY hosted events like the one in Austin nationwide, partnering with local adaptive, inclusion and special needs organizations, and will offer discounted rates for event participants.” iFLY President and COO Matt Ryan says “All Abilities April is aimed to inspire participants to dream bigger and challenge themselves. As part of this program, participants are able to push their limits and break barriers in ways they didn’t know were possible. We’re proud to empower differently-abled people and deliver the dream of flight to someone who might think it’s impossible.”
Photography by Marisa Valente