Australia’s first indoor skydiving facility has come to Sydney. It’s exhilarating, thrilling and high-energy yet safe enough for the whole family to do.
Doesn’t skydiving sound like fun? Except for that bit where you have to jump out of a plane. At iFly Downunder, you get the experience without the leap of faith. Also, it’s longer than an outdoors experience and provides more free-fall time.
The five-metre-wide glass flight chamber located right next door to the Penrith Panthers stadium is one of the largest and most technically advanced in the world. You could find yourself sharing it with a professional skydiver learning some new competition tricks, a military paratrooper getting his flight time up or a five-year-old kid with a serious adrenaline addiction.
It’s a good idea to arrive at least 45 minutes before your scheduled class to allow for suiting up and training. After signing in, you enter an instruction room to watch an introductory video that explains the proper skydiving body position and the hand signals the instructor will use to communicate with you. Then it’s time to suit up – all professional gear is included: a flying suit, helmet and goggles. Earplugs are a must as four massive fans shoot air up through funnels into the tight space where you fly. It’s loud and powerful and at 16.5 metres, Sydney’s tunnel is the tallest in the world.
You wait on a bench at the side of the tunnel space to watch the instructors have a go – they use the air with the greatest of ease, mastering the powerful wind by a slight shift of body position or a turn of the head, shooting up, turning, somersaulting or flying upside down in circles. It’s utterly amazing to watch.
When it’s your turn, you’re gently released into the powerful plume of air that makes you feel weightless. The instructor steadies you and once you relax into and hold your position, you can start playing in the wind yourself.
Small body movements such as tilting your chin or bending an arm can send you left, right, up or down but the most important thing is to relax and be still. The instructor signals you to turn and move up or down. You’re asked to fly to the edges and give a high five and when you make it there and turn successfully away, the exhilaration kicks in. You’ve got this! A flying trip to the top of the tunnel takes seconds and gives you a real kick. Only certain instructors are qualified to do this so book ahead for the total experience.
There are shorter 50-second flights to get the feel for it. Once you have some control, you can take a longer one-minute and 40-second flight to really experiment with your body positions and nail those flying skills. It only takes a minute or so till the flight muscles are aching and you’re ready to take a break and watch someone else.
All ages from three to 103 have flown, but iFly won’t say no to a 104 year old. There’s a 50/50 mix of tourists and professional skydivers who come from interstate or overseas to practice their skills. There are photos or video packages available and when it’s all over, you get a certificate with the level of skill you’ve achieved plus a special offer if you’re hooked and can’t wait to do it all again. It’s easy, utterly addictive and the best bit is you don’t have to actually jump out of a plane to do it.
By Lee Brooks
Twitter : @Brooksie101
iFly Downunder w: http://downunder.iflyworld.com/ a: 123 Mulgoa Rd, Penrith t: 1300 366 364