The memory banks of our children are a curious construct. Mention something once or twice and it’s likely to be stored away ready to utilise at the most unsuspecting times.
When my children were toddlers, their Aunty Cuddly was on the Australian Skydiving team. She regularly flew to Arizona, USA to train in their wind tunnel and would tell stories about her adventures. I never thought the kids would remember those discussions as it has been three years since Aunty Cuddly has been in the air (having a baby has made the whole thing a little too risky for her right now).
Early Saturday morning I asked Miss N what adventure she would like to go on. Horse riding perhaps? Ice skating? Rubbing her hands in glee, she responded with “sky diving!”. Hell no, I thought. She saw my facial expression and quickly reached out to hold my hand “it’s alright, Mummy, not in a plane. I want to do it like Aunty Cuddly did in America’.
iFly Downunder – downunder.iflyworld.com has been on our Kid Bucket List after we discovered a wind tunnel had been built at the foot of the Blue Mountains in Penrith. It was something I thought we could look at a little bit later when the kids reached two digits. Of course, my little dare devil was not on the same page about this projected timeline.
A little research and I discovered that Indoor Skydiving is the safest way to experience skydiving. I mean, if Charlie Bucket could do it in the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie, why couldn’t we. In fact, iFly boast hosting inexperienced flyers aged from ages 3 to 103.
On arrival you check in. This involves completing a questionnaire and signing off on each section. You are asked if you have any neck or back problems, heart conditions, if you’ve had a shoulder dislocation, if you are pregnant, and if you weigh over 120 kg. It’s important to disclose each of these so the experience can be modified if needed.
Around half an hour before your flight, the training begins. Your group is invited into the training room to watch the presentation, learn the four key signs – legs straight, legs bent, chin up and relax (you can’t hear once you are in the tube – so sign language is used) and to get kitted out in your jumpsuit, goggles and helmet. When this is cleared, you head to the tunnel to prepare for flight.
My fear of heights prevented me from making the jump but I was on the outside looking in. Most flyers hover .5 – 1 metre from the net the entire flight. It made me regret not actually doing the jump as there is no height if you choose.
Miss N’s turn. She leapt in. She kicked her legs as if she was swimming. Luckily there is an instructor inside the tunnel the entire time who assists the flyer to actually fly. It’s not as easy as it appears. If your arms or legs aren’t positioned correctly you sink or rise. 50 seconds later and she was out and waiting for her next go. Yes, the flight lasts a mere 50 seconds. I’m told this is the same amount of time it takes for a sky diver to jump out of a plane and release their parachute. Not long at all.
A couple of jumps and her adventure was over. Directed to the cool off room, Miss N removed her jumpsuit, hat and goggles while asking “can I do that again”. Of course, she couldn’t leave without being presented with her Flight Certificate.
iFly is an amazing experience but it isn’t cheap. The cheapest package for first time flyers starts at $89.00 for weekday flights and $109.00 for weekends. This includes 2 fights, training and all the gear. Photos and videos are extra. I didn’t realise, but for an extra $10.00 your instructor will whizz you to the top of the tunnel, Charlie Bucket style (albeit a lot faster). Next time!