Before I get started, I have something to say. I know it’s the first two sentences of my post, but I just need to put this out there: iFLY Seattle is AWESOME. Tove and I just went indoor skydiving there for the first time, and it’s all I can think about (I’ve even had a full night of sleep). As far as I’m concerned, it’s a thrill everyone should experience.
iFLY Seattle isn’t actually in Seattle. You can find it 20 minutes south of the city in Tukwila (349 Tukwila Parkway). In fact, you’ve probably seen their big, red, square building along I-405. The iFLY building is designed like that because it houses a huge wind tunnel that makes indoor skydiving possible. A typical building just wouldn’t do for this atypical activity!
We were invited by iFLY Seattle to come experience the thrill of indoor skydiving. This isn’t a carnival ride; it’s a real sport that everyone can enjoy. iFLY Seattle has hosted anyone from 2-years-old to 97-years-old. We were told by the staff there, “If you can walk, you can fly.” We even saw a kid’s karate group skydiving when we were there. These guys couldn’t have been older than 8, but they were rocking it!
From first-time flyers to world champions, iFLY Seattle welcomes everyone. Tove and I were first-time flyers, so we had to go through all the steps before jumping in the wind tunnel. After checking in, you’re taken into a classroom with your group. You watch a quick three-minute video about the proper skydiving position, and you’re introduced to the hand signals the instructor will use in the wind tunnel with you. After the video, you get to suit up in your skydiving gear (all supplied by iFLY Seattle). You throw on your jumpsuit, toss in your ear plugs (it’s loud in that wind tunnel), and then strap on your goggles and helmet. After that — you’re ready to fly!
Tove and I were the last people to skydive in our group (of 12 or so) at iFLY Seattle. That means we got to watch everyone go before us. Members of our group would jump into the wind tunnel with the instructor one after another until it was finally our turn. I’ve never been skydiving before and I’ve never even thought of skydiving as a real possibility. So, my heart started to race as I got closer to the door. While you’re not jumping from a plane, you’re still jumping into a wind tunnel blowing more than 100 miles per hour. You have no idea what to expect…
Standing in the doorway with your arms tucked into your chest, you lean forward into the wind tunnel. Once you’re in, you open up into the proper skydiving position, and you’re off! Well…you’re kind of off. What you quickly learn is that it’s not easy to remember what the proper skydiving position is, but that’s why the iFLY Seattle instructor is right there with you. He’s either holding you by the straps on your jumpsuit, moving your arms into the right spot, or giving you hand signals. Once you’re stable, the instructor lets go of you and you’re indoor skydiving on your own. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. Words just can’t do it justice.
Luckily, you get two turns in the wind tunnel at iFLY Seattle. The first time you’re a little nervous because you don’t know what’s about to happen, but the second time you’re itching to get back in there and try it again. That second jump is much more exciting than the first, especially if you choose the “High Fly.” For an extra $10 (you tell them if you want to do it or not), the instructor will grab onto you, they’ll crank up the wind speed, and (twice) you spin high into the wind tunnel (again, with the instructor holding onto you). That was easily one of the coolest parts of the experience and we highly recommend it. Judging by the laughs and smiles on the faces of everyone else in our group, I’m sure they’d suggest the “High Fly” as well.
After your group is done flying, the iFLY Seattle instructor puts on an indoor skydiving show. It’s incredible to watch these guys do their thing. They’re flying high into the air, back down head first, and even zipping along the walls. It’s amazing, especially when you’ve been in there and you realize there’s nothing easy about it. The instructors have so much control of themselves they zip right into the doorway without even grabbing on (like us amateurs have to) — they just fly right in.
Once you get your gear off, you receive a personalized certificate showing that you’ve flown. The instructor also gives you a few quick pointers for your next trip. That’s right, iFLY Seattle invites you back over and over again to grow your indoor skydiving skills. Once you clear a certain checklist, you can step up to the next level (there are four different flying styles you can master) and/or fly in the wind tunnel with others.
The entire time you’re in the wind tunnel (it’s either one or two minutes at a time, depending on which package you buy), iFLY Seattle is recording your skydives and snapping pictures. That was one of the most fun things for us to check out when Tove and I were done. I can’t even explain how much we laughed at the photos of ourselves. It was really fun to see us in action. Of course, the pictures and DVDs are available for purchase.
Tove and I were completely “blown away” (a little indoor skydiving humor for you) by our experience at iFLY Seattle. We couldn’t stop talking about how much fun we had for the rest of the night. It truly is the thrill of skydiving in a safe, controlled environment. We both agreed this was one of the coolest — if not the coolest thing we’ve ever done together. It was a “blast” (more indoor skydiving humor) and we can’t wait to go back!
Have you ever checked out iFLY Seattle (click here for pricing, etc.)? How was your experience? We’d love to hear all about it! Please leave a comment below or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Don’t forget to also visit Seattle Bloggers for more fun places to experience in the Emerald City.