Unless you’re an insane person who wears wingsuits and skims mountainsides, skydiving is the closest that most people will get to flying. But even then you have to deal with the whole idea of jumping out of a plane and learning how to pull a chute and not going splat on the ground.
Fortunately for the semi-daring out there, indoor skydiving company iFLY is coming to Stonebriar Centre mall in Frisco.
With plans to be complete in time for the 2013 holiday season, iFLY features a giant wind tunnel 14 feet in diameter that reaches 50 feet tall. For about $60, a diver gets one minute in the tunnel in which winds range from 85 to 150 miles per hour. An instructor guides divers from inside the tunnel.
The experience mimics outdoor skydiving so closely that experienced and competitive skydivers use iFLY for practice.
Chief marketing officer Stuart Wallock says that iFLY provides the thrill of skydiving without the time and money commitments required with outdoor skydiving.
“The whole idea came from our CEO, who is an ex-world champion sky diver,” Wallock says. “He wanted to create an experience where you didn’t have to jump out of a plane and [you could] have a free-fall experience inside a safe environment.”
iFLY is based in Austin, but it has locations in Seattle, San Francisco and even Dubai. Wallock says the Frisco addition made sense as a natural expansion within Texas.
“Dallas is a natural fit,” he says. “It’s got the right type of demographic and attitude toward more extreme activities.”
Indoor skydiving is safer than outdoor skydiving, which means that children as young as 3 can get in the tunnel. But the experience mimics outdoor skydiving so closely that experienced and competitive skydivers use iFLY for practice. Packages for first-time flyers range from $60 to $250. Traditional skydiving packages generally start around $1,000.
“A minute of free-fall [outside] takes a lot of cash, time, experience and a lot of risk,” Wallock says. “You’re going up in a plane, jumping out, falling and then pulling a chute, and if you want to do it again, that’s several hours. In the tunnel, you can book several minutes at a time for a quarter of the cost.”
With more experience comes the ability to truly explore the entire tunnel. Beginner divers practice perfecting the “belly float,” which is what most people think of when they think skydiving. But an experienced diver can climb the tunnel all 50 feet as well as practice diving head first and other advanced moves.
Wallock says that iFLY locations are designed to accommodate everyone — from birthday parties and company team building to physics lessons for elementary and graduate students.
“Everybody can do it, from the kids to parents,” he says. “It doesn’t matter what your physical abilities are. It’s just a great amount of fun.”