We went indoor skydiving! I never, ever, EVER would have imagined myself doing anything even slightly related to skydiving, but I did, and I brought my 5-year-old to do it with me! Here are the important details about iFly Chicago, and if you scroll down you can read all about our experience.
Location: There are two iFly Chicago locations. We visited the Naperville location at 1752 Freedom Drive, Naperville. There is also a location at 5520 Park Place, Rosemont.
Phone: 779-456-4359 (Naperville), 779-368-4359 (Rosemont)
Hours: Monday through Thursday – 10:00 am to 10:00 pm
Friday – 10:00 am to 11:00 pm
Saturday – 8:00 am to 11:00 pm
Sunday – 9:00 am to 9:00 pm
Admission: iFly offers several different packages for beginners, return flyers, and experienced flyers. The first-time flyer packages start at $69.95. This includes training, use of all the equipment you’ll need (flight suit, helmet, earplugs, and goggles), hands-on assistance from a flight instructor, a personalized flight certificate, and two flights (for one person).
Parking: There is free parking in the iFly parking lot.
Handicapped accessibility: iFly is not recommended for anyone who has had a back, neck, or shoulder injury, or for pregnant women. Participants must be under 6 feet tall and less than 230 pounds, or less than 250 pounds if they are over 6 feet tall.
Food: There is no food available at iFly, but there are several restaurants in the area at both the Naperville and Rosemont locations.
- Photos and videos are available for purchase or as part of flight packages.
- Gift cards are available.
- Kids Club – Monday at 6:00 pm in Naperville, or Thursday at 5:30 pm in Rosemont, kids between 3 and 15 can participate in the Kids Club where they will receive 30 minutes of instruction, 5 minutes of flying time, and a video for $69.95. Kids who sign up for 4 or more sessions will pay $59.95 per session and receive free entry into the quarterly Kids Club competition at the Naperville iFly.
- League Nights
- Group rates.
- Special pricing for experienced flyers.
We paid: Our experience was complimentary for a media event. Dexter and I received the equivalent of the Spread Your Wings for Two experience, which is $141.24.
I’m a terrified of heights (and I mean TERRIFIED; I cried at Skydeck Chicago), so the thought of indoor skydiving is pretty horrifying to me, but when I was invited to iFly I checked out at video. There’s no falling involved, and not a whole lot of height. Sounds like the right kind of skydiving to me!
Dexter’s my little daredevil child so I knew he’d love iFly, but he’s only 5 years old. Luckily, kids as young as 3 can fly at iFly!
We visited the iFly in Naperville on a Monday evening. The iFly building is pretty distinctive, and has “Indoor Skydiving” in red letters on the top. We arrived for our appointment and I was asked to register and sign waiver at the computer kiosk. We were led upstairs and I was amazed at how small the inside was; much smaller than it looked like from outside.
We got a chance to watch a few people fly, and then got to learn about iFly from the experts – the staff. Here are a few of the really interesting things we learned:
- iFly has 32 locations around the world and has flown more than 6 million people since 1999. Vertical wind tunnels like the one at iFly are used by professional skydivers and the military for training.
- The building is has two giant tunnels for air in addition to the one that’s used for flying, one on each side so that the air is constantly circulating up the flying tunnel, around to the sides and then down into the basement, to come up the flying tunnel again.
- Flying is a sport and there are sometimes injuries, but they are primarily elbow bumps and the like. The flying trainers we spoke to consider it safer than other sports like soccer.
- iFly has a Kids Club and League Night so kids or adults can come weekly for flying experience. iFly is conducting a national virtual competition for their young flyers and the grand prize will be awesome and will allow the winner to seriously pursue flying as a sport.
- The wind speed in the tunnel is constantly being adjusted by a staff member during flights.
- iFly has an educational STEM and CORE program where students can work with an accredited education and become the science experiment in the wind tunnel while learning about things like terminal velocity, center of mass, and drag and turbulent flow.
- Flying in the air tunnel is all about density and positioning. Instructors can stand in the air tunnel, but if you spread out, you fly.
- Part of the iFly job interview is flying! How fun is that?!
As interesting as all that was, we were pretty anxious to fly. Our instructor, Bailey, led us to the training room. Training was short and very simple. We learned how to enter the tunnel, how to exit, and four hand signals… straighten legs, bend legs, chin up, and relax. The hand signals are primarily about helping you to make the most of your experience. Instructors give these signals to help you adjust your body position to fly better.
After training it was on to the lockers and our gear. Everything we had (keys, any loose jewelry, cell phones, etc.) went into a locker. Staff gave us disposable ear plugs, goggles, helmets, and flight suits.
Dexter and I and some other flyers entered a seating area attached to the tunnel like a dugout. We had a chance to watch a few people fly before it was our turn. At this point, I got a little nervous. The instructors stand on a cable net floor and you can see below that and it goes down pretty far; luckily, when you fly you have to keep your chin up to stay in the correct position so there’s no looking down.
Once it was my turn all the fear went away. It was so much fun and completely unlike any other experience. Our first flight was a minute of just flying with some help from our instructor. As soon as it was over I felt like I weighed about 1,000 pounds and my whole body was vibrating from the wind. It only took a minute or two to feel normal again. After everyone had their first flight, we each got a second turn. During the second turn we spent about 30 seconds flying and then one of the instructors grabbed on (the flight suits have these really handy handles I would love to have sewn onto ALL of my kids’ clothes) and took us flying really high. I expected to be scared during this part, too, but I wasn’t at all. You really don’t feel very high, just weightless, and you never, ever get the sensation of falling. We did spin a little fast coming down, but it wasn’t scary and didn’t make me feel motion sick (and I’m pretty sensitive to that), it’s just fun.
Overall, it was an absolutely FABULOUS experience. I’m dying to go again, and so is Dexter. Cooper and John would love to try it, too. It is pricey – $70 for 2 minutes of flying. I’ll admit that that sounds completely crazy, but I think it’s totally worth it. John was shocked when I said this because I’m not the daredevil type and I’m pretty frugal, but it really is an experience unlike anything else (except skydiving, I assume, which I will NEVER do). When you compare it to skydiving, which is a lot more expensive and the average jump lasts about 45 seconds, iFly is a steal!