The sensation of plummeting towards the Earth with none of the life-jeopardizing hassle is now available just a short drive from the ASU Tempe campus. iFLY Indoor Skydiving offers a chance to free fall in a large wind tunnel to simulate the experience of actual skydiving. If that's not enough for you, they also combine this experience with virtual reality goggles, placing you in a variety of locations around the world for all your globetrotting desires.
Sales Manager Chris Prince outlines the experience you can expect and explains why any ASU student should make the trip.
Alfred Varela: If the daunting experience of jumping from the safety of an airplane and free falling several thousand feet towards the Earth doesn't entice you, you may be relieved to hear that you may now have the opportunity to feel the same sensation with nowhere near the same amount of risk. Less than 20 minutes north of the ASU Tempe campus is iFLY Indoor Skydiving.
Chris Prince: iFLY is indoor skydiving but without the diving and without the falling. You're in an air tunnel that is circulated within our building here. We use two large air tunnels that feed into one, and you're about five or six feet off the ground for most of the time. You're in there with an instructor, so an instructor is holding onto you. You're wearing a training body suit, a helmet and goggles to protect you from the wind. Any little movement that you have can make you turn right, left, up or down, and the more practice that you get within the tunnel, the better you become at manipulating your body to fly and hold a different formation. There is definitely a sport aspect to it. Most people come do it just to see what the sensation is and feel what it's like. It does give you a sensation of free falling, but you're never really more than 10 feet off the ground.
Alfred Varela: Admittedly, most have a general idea what to expect from indoor skydiving, but what if I told you that iFLY has just recently introduced a new twist on the activity by combining skydiving with virtual reality goggles?
Chris Prince: It's a new thing that we've added within the last few months or so. It's really really exciting, really cool. You get to choose from locations around the world: Dubai, the Swiss Alps, Hawaii, Southern California. You do have to do two flights before that, but then the third flight you wear your VR mask. It gives you a realistic viewpoint of actually skydiving. You put that on before you enter the tunnel, so when you're in the tunnel, and you get the air coming up at you, it really does feel like you're falling. Ever since we've added it a few months ago, people have loved it. They love the idea of feeling like they're skydiving in Dubai, but really it's all virtual reality, but it's very lifelike because you are actually immersed with your body inside of a wind tunnel. It does give you the sensation that you actually are skydiving. So I highly recommend it for anybody that wants to try it.
Alfred Varela: But what sort of experience should you expect to being a first time patron? Now that you have a basic understanding of what experience iFLY offers, it couldn't hurt to know more about how the facility operates in practice.
Chris Prince: So we break up our reservations into half hour blocks. Each half-hour block you can get twelve people inside of the chamber at once, but before they get inside the chamber they take our training class. It really gives them an opportunity to talk with the instructor who will let them know kind of what to expect when they get in the tunnel. They'll give them some hand motions since you can't really talk inside because the wind is going so fast. Through hand motions, you'll know "I need to spread my feet, or I need to relax."
Most people do about two minutes each, to do a rotation in there. You go in for one minute, and then you go to the back of the line, and then the rest of people go, and then you get your second rotation. So everybody's waiting in what we call the anti-chamber, which is like a bench right outside the tunnel itself, and one person after another will go in with the help of the instructor. It's about an hour to hour and fifteen minute process from beginning to end, but people really enjoy it even if they've skydived before or somebody who has never even thought about skydiving. It's a really cool sensation.
Alfred Varela: And for those of you concerned that indoor skydiving might not be for you, Chris reassures that the "gift to flight" is more attainable than you might think.
Chris Prince: Anybody from the age of three to 103 is eligible to fly. Young people, old people, people of all shapes and sizes come in and try this – they really enjoy it. When you give the gift of flight, the good thing about it is is that everybody gets a chance to enjoy it. It doesn't really, at least at the beginning, involve much prior training. Everybody kind of goes in on the same level. So it's really a fun thing, and everybody really enjoys it.
Alfred Varela: And for his fellow students and alumni, sales manager Chris Prince, leaves you with this.
Chris Prince: I went to ASU myself. I know over at ASU sometimes you can get stuck just hanging out and doing the normal stuff around Tempe. If they really want to do something a little bit different, take a weekend day or take a night and come on up and try iFLY. I guarantee you'll have a lot to talk about with everybody.
Alfred Varela: For The State Press, I'm Alfred Varela.