Indoor vs Outdoor Skydiving 1

Discover the difference and quell your curiosity at Kansas City’s new iFly Indoor Skydiving facility

It is not the same to talk or read about something as to experience it. So even as you are perusing this article about the experiences this writer has had with actual and re-created skydiving, I’d tell you to put the magazine down and go book your own.  But if you want a little more information first, by all means read on.

Full disclosure: I am no skydiving expert. The fact that I have done it once in my lifetime allowed me to offer a comparison, but it is one from the perspective of a novice.

I’ll begin with actual jumping-out-of-an airplane-with-a-parachute. One of my sorority sisters in college was an instructor and it was she who encouraged me to do it back then. After a day of safety/ground instruction,we ventured up in a single engine, overwing airplane with a propeller. I did a “static line” jump alone, not a tandem jump with an instructor. “Jump” is a misnomer—what I did was actually lean out of the door, grab on to the wing, hang there until the instructor said, “Let go.” In my book, anyone who does it this way is a stud. So I am a self-qualified stud who could not let go when my instructor told me to and that extra 3 seconds of flight took me a mile off course; I had to be retrieved from a cornfield, but that’s not really relevant to the indoor-outdoor comparison. Except to assure you’re guaranteed not to land in any fields in an indoor experience.

With a static line, a cord is attached to the plane and the parachute. There is 6 seconds of “freefall” and we’d been told to count “one-one-thousand,” to six and then the ‘chute was supposed to be pulled open as the cord reached its end. I experienced such sheer terror that I could not remember how to count to six. I don’t remember much about those six seconds except the roar of the wind in my ears and my life expectancy was entirely uncertain. Thankfully my parachute did open and I have lived a long, full life. The feeling of exhilaration at the moment the parachute pops open is unforgettable. It suddenly becomes the most quiet you’ll ever experience. You gently float down to earth, enjoying the incredible view of the world around as you guide your parachute to the ground.

The part of that experience that gets duplicated in indoor skydiving is the freefall, without the terror. The indoor experience includes a brief classroom instruction where they walk you step-by-step through the process. Afterword you put on a jumpsuit, earplugs and goggles, then sit with your group and wait your turn in the glass-encased wind tunnel. At your turn, you stand at the entry and lean into the wind. The instructor stands inside with you and helps get your body position correct. You’re only allowed about 10 feet in the air, and though you’ve paid for just a few minutes, it feels long enough.

I have always had dreams of flying like Superman, and this feels close. Except, the name “iFly” is a little bit of a misnomer because it can be challenging to find your balance and maintain control of your body with the air blowing up at 160 miles per hour. That takes practice, so for those looking to really get the feeling of flying themselves, book more than one experience. Indoor skydiving is actually a sport that you can master. Going once for the thrill is totally optional and the professionals at iFly told me that many of their guests are people coming to check off a Bucket List item.  But like all things, if you want to master it, you’ll have to return.

Or, you can ask for the “High Fly” experience and pay a little extra for one of their professionals to help you, which is what I did. The expert who helped me was David, and his knowledge and experience instilled such confidence, I felt totally comfortable. After everyone else in my group completed their turn, I went back in and David held one of my arms and one of my legs and flew us up to the top of the tunnel, spun us around as we went back down. This repeated several times and was absolutely one of the most fun things I’ve ever done.

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