Chicago families can try sky diving at new indoor facility

Skydiving is not on my bucket list.

Jumping out of an airplane and plummeting to the ground doesn’t sound appealing. Besides, I’m afraid of heights. So, when my family and I were recently invited to experience indoor skydiving at iFLY in Rosemont I was a bit hesitant, but eventually agreed. If it’s safe for 3 year-olds I guess it was OK for our kids (Julie, 8, and Johnny, 5). And I guess I’d just have to suck it up and try it.

Located at the MB Financial Park in Rosemont, iFLY looks like a giant blue warehouse. Inside the massive building, it feels a little like a warehouse too. We arrived on a warm spring day, and of course the kids and my husband Scott were more than excited to fly. I, on the other hand, couldn’t help but feel nervous. Ironically, a few days prior, I found out I was pregnant—so no flying for me. (Before flying, participants must sign waivers and no one can fly if they are pregnant or have certain health conditions.) But, I was still completely worried for my little guys.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by professional skydivers and informed that everyone had to suit up immediately. This meant skydiving suits, helmets and goggles. My crew looked adorable. We were then whisked to a special room where we watched a training video and learned what to expect with our flights.

With training complete, we were ready to fly in the enormous vertical wind tunnel. Four axial fans are mounted at the top of the building, channeling air down the sides of the tunnels into the basement and then up through the floor of the 14-foot-wide circular flight chamber, creating a strong upward draft. Ranging in speeds of 80 to 175 miles per hour, this upward draft creates wall-to-wall air flow that pushes flyers aloft and makes it possible for them to fly.

Julie insisted on flying first. Our brave little girl practically jumped into the chamber with the skydiving instructor. For the first 60-second session, the instructor held Julie’s leg to keep her steady, but eventually she was flying on her own. For her second turn, the instructor grabbed onto both legs, and he and Julie zipped practically to the top of the air chamber flying up and down. It was completely exhilarating. When it was Johnny’s turn, it was obvious he thought he was some sort of super hero. Because he was a bit lighter, he seemed to fly effortlessly to the top with the instructor. Scott was entertaining to watch he tried to stabilize himself and fly.

They were truly flying, but surprisingly, I wasn’t worried a bit. The instructor was there to catch them at any time and to give guidance and the wire netting at the bottom would prevent any falls. It’s an experience I know my kids will remember forever, and I promised the iFLY guys I’d be back for my turn.

iFLY is located at 5520 Park Place at MB Financial Park in Rosemont. Hours are Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Beginner-level packages which include two 60-second flights and a personalized flight certificate are $69.95 per person.

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