Cop an Altitude at iFLY in Union CityWould you like to fly through the sky, performing graceful acrobatics like the skydivers you see on TV, but are a bit too acrophobic to jump out of an actual airplane? Then you are in luck Bay Area, iFLY in Union City, CA allows even the most timid flyer to “cop an altitude” with their top of the line indoor skydiving facility. Indoor skydiving centers can be found all over the world and they are the closest thing to jumping out of an airplane.
iFLY was started in 1998 by Alan Metni as SkyVenture, LLC. Once they developed the technology to create a stable, wall-to-wall cushion of air in a flight chamber they knew they could offer an incredibly realistic and safe indoor skydiving experience. The first tunnel was in located in Orlando, FL in 1999 with great success. Between 1999 and 2005 they opened three more facilities. In 2005, they rebranded themselves as iFLY, maintaining SkyVenture as their design and manufacturing company. The Union City location is a 40 foot first generation wind tunnel with four 250 horse powered fans that can simulate a maximum speed of 175 miles per hour. The fans are well maintained and checked every morning to ensure that they are no malfunctions. Today, iFLY has 29 locations around the world in the US, Canada, Europe and Asia, and the list continues to grow.
After arriving at iFLY we checked in with the ground crew and were given a wristband with our name and flight time on it, this helps the instructor know how much flight time each person has. We were then were greeted by Lindsay Anderson, the Sales and Marketing Director who has been with the company for close to a year. “I really love coming to a job where almost everyone walks out with this huge smile on their face, it’s so rewarding and there is never a dull moment working here” says Anderson. We walked up the stairs to meet our flight crew and watched a mandatory instructional video that taught us the important hand signals that we would use to communicate with our instructor and how to stay safe in the tunnel. After the video we geared up with a jumpsuit, goggles, ear plugs and a helmet and headed into the chamber. The chamber is where all flyers wait their turn before jumping into the tunnel. Depending on the package you choose you can expect 2 x one minute flights or 2 x two minute flights.
Standing at the entrance to the tunnel I had a slight idea of what to expect, I had watched the video and the flyers before us but honestly jumping into that tunnel for the first time was thrilling! You leap in while holding your hands close to your chest, the instructor catches you and then you assume the flight position. It took a few seconds for the instructor to fine tune my body position so I could balance on my own, by the time he was done I was flying solo at about head height. I must have looked like a human-shaped balloon being guided through the air, the only part that was missing was the string. After the one minute was up I was guided towards the exit, grabbed the door jam and pulled myself down. My entire body was tingling from a combination of adrenaline and the fact that I had used every single muscle in my body.
If you opt to do the high flight (which I highly recommend) you will do this on your second flight and blast 40 feet to the top of the tunnel with your instructor and back down three times. Our instructor, Charles “Chuck” Reid, a seasoned flyer who has been with iFly for over 6 years has done both indoor and outdoor skydiving. “I prefer indoor because it’s safer and flyers are with trained professionals. I really like to interact with my customers and pretend that I am Spiderman. ” says Reid. After everyone in our group had finished their second flight, we got to see Reid in action as Spiderman; zipping from one side of the tunnel to the next, flipping upside down, blasting straight up, dropping down inches from the bottom, shooting his imaginary spider web to pull himself over to the window. The kids in our group loved it and squealed with excitement.
iFLY allows children as young as 3 to fly and has no restrictions on being too old. They recently had a 102 year old man and two 83+ women cross indoor skydiving off their bucket lists. They can accommodate a person with disabilities including paraplegics and quadriplegics. For the safety of the instructors, flyers under 6 feet must weigh less than 240 pounds and over 6 feet no more than 250 pounds. iFLY is available for birthday parties, corporate events and field trips and offers many education programs including a summer camp that starts in the next few weeks.
iFLY SF BAY
31310 Alvarado Niles Rd
Union City, CA 94587
b/t Marcia Dr & Santa Maria Dr