A few weeks ago we drove to Milton Keynes for an amazing family adventure, one which I wouldn’t have thought to book up for us yet due to the children’s ages but as soon as I read the email I just knew we would all have an amazing time.
There are things we talk about doing as a family and these always seem to be wild and wacky and adventurous – that sums us up as a family really. Paul and I used to go to our local climbing centre pre-children and climb/abseil and it was so much fun that when the chance came to abseil our local church for charity we jumped at it. We have both climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Paul was a keen Mountain Boarder and I even completed a charity Skydive a few years ago now.
The children watched me Skydive and it is something we talk about often, they watch my video and want to see the pictures all the time.
The kids (and Paul) were so excided when they found out where we were heading and the kids were full of excited giggle for the whole drive – it helped that I had been showing them videos of iFly to show them what they would be doing and what to expect.
What is iFly?
Indoor skydiving is the simulation of true free-fall conditions in a vertical wind tunnel. It’s where the dream of flight becomes a reality.
Anyone from the age of 3 to 103 years can experience the thrill of indoor skydiving at iFLY and the instructors are all fully trained.
Upon arrival we handed in our booking forms and then had to fill-in a health/disclaimer form for all in our party – this is done on a computer and took around 5 minutes for all 4 of us.
Our flight experience was for 4pm and we needed to check in for 3pm for training and suiting up. In our time slot were 8 flyers, we were all taken into a room and shown a mini video which shows the equipment you will be wearing and talks you through the flight itself with the most important part to remember being the hand signals which you need to know for inside the wind tunnel. We were also shown the position you need to hold your body and how to enter the tunnel.
After this video we were all taken off to suit up – it is very important that everything is taken out of your pockets and jewellery removed. Those flying can’t take mobile phones in with them but if you have someone who isn’t flying they are able to take pictures and videos for you and of course professional ones are taken of your flight which you can video and purchase on the day or which proofs will be emailed to you for digital download after your experience.
Each flyer wears an all-in-one suit which zips up the front and Velcro’s too, these have straps which fit over your shoes (these have to be laced up shoes done up tightly, Velcro or slip-ons aren’t allowed. If you don’t have lace-ups you are able to hire some on the day). You will also be given ear-plugs which I do advice wearing as it is VERY noisy inside the wind tunnel, goggles and a helmet.
We then headed upstairs to the flight area. Our group was split into two with the other family going first while we watched from outside. We were introduced to our instructor Sean who explained the flying experiences available. Basic flights are the starter flights and depending on how booked up the centre is on the day; other packages or flight slots are released during the day if there is time. You maybe able to purchase an extra flight if there is the time, and high-fly’s are also available at extra costs.(High-fly’s are when the instructor fly’s with you and you fly upwards in the tunnel)
Standard flights are approximately a minute long (some maybe a little longer), now I know this doesn’t sound very long at all but it is actually around 15 seconds longer than your freefall flight during a real skydive and feels a lot longer while you are inside that tunnel. Each flyer has 2 goes inside the tunnel (or more depending on the package you have purchased).
When you enter the waiting room for the tunnel you sit and wait for your turn, the instructor will come guide you to the tunnel (this is actually a room with Perspex windows so you can see out while inside, and those outside can see in – the wind blasts from below you), there is an open doorway to go in and another to exit.
When entering you stand up straight with your arms crossed across your chest in an x-shape (you’ll be reminded by the instructor should you forget), lean forward and enter. You then need to straighten your arms so your hands are palm down in-front of your face, slightly offset to the side of your head – don’t worry the wind almost does the job for you. Your legs should be straight behind you with your chin up – this places your body into a curved position. If you aren’t in the correct position the instructor helps by using the hand signals you’ve learn earlier but if you’ve forgotten these are displayed on a screen for you to read.
Emmy and Harry were both so excited to try this along with Paul and I. Having already experienced a proper skydive I fully remembered the breathlessness of the freefall and was a tad apprehensive – it took my breathe away and I panicked but of course freefalling from 13,000ft there was nothing I could do but to go with it, I held my breath for the whole of that part of my skydive and was so relieved to take a breath when my parachute opened up. Inside the tunnel I experienced a similar feeling, the wind from beneath me took away my breathe and I could remember the initial panic I experienced last time – however this time it didn’t last long as I was able to look around me and see outside the tunnel and I could also see the floor which reminded me that this was entirely different and I relaxed and enjoyed myself so much.
Harry, unfortunately freaked out at the last minute and refused to have a go which was sad as he was really looking forward to it but he did look adorable in his outfit.
Emmy didn’t want to go first but that was her only concern, when she was inside the tunnel she absolutely LOVED it, she was amazing, she remembered all of the hand signals and her body position correct almost instantly. She smiled throughout and couldn’t wait for her next go.
Paul had a blast and really loved it and also couldn’t wait for his next turn.
Our instructor Sean was also a member of the England Skydiving team and after our normal flights took us up for a high-fly and that for me was the best experience ever. He was able to make us spin, turn and go up and down. This was something you wouldn’t experience in a normal skydive and something you would learn to do after many lessons.
This is something I loved doing myself but enjoyed just as much watching Emmy and Paul having their turns. So if this isn’t something you fancy trying for yourself you WILL enjoy the experience from outside watching and you will not get bored.
After we had completed our turn, Sean treated us to an AMAZING display of his skills and WOW was it amazing – please do watch to the end of this video to see what he can do – flying upside down, loops, tricks and much more – it is NOT to be missed!
iFly are located in Milton Meynes, Manchester and Basingstoke. After you flight you receive a certificate showing your progress, this also had codes you can scan to watch the moves online to see how they are done and are tracked online so if you return your instructor will know how many lessons you’ve had and how your lessons have progressed/what you need to work on next.
Return flight deals are available on the day after your flight and these are the best deals you can find but throughout the year you will also find fantastic package deals – currently they have a Christmas offer on where you can save over 40% off of your flights.
I can HIGHLY recommend this as a gift for anyone of all ages – I’d suggest over 5’s ideally as they need to be able to follow instructions and Harry was just too nervous to have a try (it was the going inside without Mummy or Daddy which freaked him out the most) but of course all children are different.
I am re-booking for Paul and Emmy to head back and have another turn in the new year. It was an absolute blast and the best fun ever! Thanks to iFly for this amazing family experience, it is something Emmy is still talking about daily.
For further information on iFly please visit their website: www.iflyworld.co.uk
Disclaimer: We received this family experience for the purpose of this post. All thoughts, wording and opinions remain my own. Our next sessions I have paid for as we had so much fun.