Indoor Skydiving in Utah
By Will McGough
A little over a year ago, I did something I wanted to do my entire life – something I always wished I would someday have the courage to do: Jump out of an airplane, plummet to the earth and live to tell the story.
It’s funny how that sort of thing goes. Skydiving is a bucket-list item for millions of people, yet most will never take the leap. Those intense adventure activities are easy to romanticize in our heads, but it’s a different story when the propeller on the plane begins to spin, the knees begin to wobble. The excuses are essentially endless, from cojones to cost (my jump was $200 for 45 seconds of freefall).
Another perceived barrier: There’s no easing into it. Life is all about practice and progression – baseball players use batting cages, weightlifters hit the gym – but skydivers watch a five-minute video and climb into the clouds?
When I was in Odgen, Utah a few weeks ago (about an hour's drive north of Salt Lake City), I had the opportunity to experience what I originally believed to be a very good example of an oxymoron – indoor skydiving.
Here’s how it works. Four 250 horsepower fans create a wind tunnel, producing a stream of air that suspends you above a trampoline-like floor. By twisting and turning your body in different positions you are able to maneuver through the 120-mph winds the same way you would when skydiving, the small adjustments of your body angle, arms, and legs determining your elevation and direction. Think minor movements – a slight change makes a big difference.
As it turns out, I came closer to crushing my skull skydiving indoors than I did when I jumped out an actual plane last summer. I was doing my best to get myself to the top of the tunnel, arching my back and holding my arms high, yet a miscalculation nearly sent my face straight into the floor.
I’m being a bit dramatic – it’s perfectly safe – however it is by no means a bunny slope. Experts use the facility to practice formations, but iFLY is for all age ranges (there was a ten-year old girl doing flips before I got in).
As someone who has done the real thing, I can tell you that the floating sensation is exactly the same. Had my eyes been closed, I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference (they are working on getting projections of scenery on the walls).
My guide that day told me he has jumped out of a plane over 6,000 times, and he put on quite the show. He literally goes from the floor to the ceiling, then does a backflip and lands perfectly on the other side of the door, out of the wind. Growing up I always dreamed of being a superhero – of having complete freedom in the air. Take a look at the video. The thumbs up and smile on my face says it all: Mission accomplished.
Photos courtesy of iFly Utah and Klik Photo.
About Will McGough: On the Edge columnist
Will McGough is a writer focused on all types of travel, from swimming with pigs to parties in ice hotels. He is inspired by the spectrum of ways in which people live their lives in the different parts of the world. He enjoys the idea of waking up every day to new opportunities, new landscapes, and the new feelings that the former inevitably evoke. He doesn’t discriminate: Massages, wine tasting, sailing, skydiving, and bed-and-breakfasts are all equally inviting.