In the world of adrenaline sports, skydiving is an old favorite. What other sport allows you to step out of an airplane at 10,000 feet and literally fall to the Earth free of any tether to quell the fear?
Apparently there is a new trend in the world of freefall, one that doesn’t require an airplane–or even a parachute. Indoor skydiving has made its way to the Tampa area. iFLy indoor skydiving center recently opened its doors in Brandon, giving local thrill-seekers an opportunity to experience the adrenaline of skydiving without some of the more dangerous components, like the dizzying height or a faulty parachute. Best of all, it widens the audience of the sport to people who may not be legally permitted to jump from an airplane, like your three-year-old daughter.
A Short History of the Vertical Wind Tunnel
The vertical wind tunnel was first created by NASA around 1940 to study the effect that wind had on aircraft spins and helicopter blades. Twenty-odd years later, a parachute tester working for the Apollo Space Program took advantage of a late night at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and went without the parachute. The first human flight was a success! However, it still took fourteen years more for the inventor Jean St-Germain to invent the first wind tunnel specifically intended for recreational use.
An Afternoon at the Tunnel
You are given a helmet, goggles a jumpsuit, and instructions on how to position your body. Oh, and a little luck. Not that you’ll need it. Indoor skydiving is a relatively safe alternative to free fall, a lot more forgiving. And it’s not an all-day affair either (unless you want it to be). You’ll watch an instructional video and talk about safety procedures. You’ll get hints on how to make your experience fun, like how to avoid panicking (breath through your nose).
Ninety minutes is the average time commitment to prep for the tunnel and perform the jump, although freefall is only a scant portion of that. Two one-minute flights cost around $60, four minute-long flights run $100. With the average cost of a night at the movies for four around the same price, it is no wonder that Tampa families are choosing to spend their time as active participants of life this season instead of watching the action on a screen.
What Makes it Work
The wind tunnel at iFLY is constructed in a space of 14′ wide by 60′ high. Four turbines provide the wind that is sucked through external conduits into a glass tube to provide circular wind flow that can be set to travel anywhere from 100 mph to 120mph. Experienced jumpers claim that the feeling of floating in a wind tunnel is just like being in freefall, making it the perfect place for first-timers to see what it would feel like and for pros to get some practice time in.
iFly offers you the option to purchase a video or pictures of your experience to share with family and friends. While the experience is suited for most people, those who have previous shoulder, back or neck injuries should clear the jump with their doctors first. iFLY Tampa is the company’s 26th indoor skydiving center opened since 1998. To find out more about iFly’s indoor skydiving locations or for questions about reserving an outdoor skydiving adventure through one of our affiliates, give Skydiving.com a call!