NAPERVILLE – Chin up. Arms at eye level. Legs apart and slightly bent.
I’m trying to focus on holding the correct position as I fall forward and am lifted in the air by winds from fans that can blow as fast as 165 mph.
With an instructor's help, I fly as high as 25 feet above a stainless steel net.
Surrounding me is a 14-foot-wide, 48-foot-tall glass tube.
Anyone ages three and up can skydive, without having to jump out of a plane, at the new iFly Indoor Skydiving facility at 1752 Freedom Drive.
“It’s something so new and so different that most people haven’t experienced, and it’s really a dream I think we all have,” said General Manager David Janossy.
He said the indoor skydiving technology is the fifth generation of vertical wind tunnel technology.
“The older generations are single pass, where the air goes in the bottom and goes out the top; here we re-circulate in a loop,” Janossy said. “We use four axial fans, which are located horizontally above the tunnels.”
No experience is needed to skydive at iFly. The most basic package is called “Earn Your Wings” and costs $69.95, said iFly Naperville's lead instructor, Tim Hunckler. It comes with two one-minute flights and rental gear—a jumpsuit, goggles and earplugs.
At the beginner level, customers fly with their stomachs down, and an instructor accompanies them in the tunnel.
More experienced fliers can dive sitting up, on their heads, on their backs and with another person. Janossy said eight instructors flew in the tunnel together July 4, the opening day of the Naperville location.
Before flying, participants must watch someone else fly and view a safety video.
The only thing that can be heard in the tunnel is the noise of the fans, so instructors teach fliers hand signals.
Hunckler said the simulator feels exactly like outdoor skydiving.
“Skydivers use this as a training tool as well because it’s the most specific place where you can also work on your free fall skills over and over again,” Hunckler said.
Experienced divers can rent the tunnel to practice their free fall. The facility has rooms where groups can watch a live feed of the tunnel and review videos of their dive.
The instructor in the control room also takes videos and photographs, which are included in some packages and can be purchased separately.
Packages are available for groups such as families, teams, corporations and parties. iFly also hosts classes, Hunckler said.
Participants can reserve fly times via walk in, phone call or online registration.
iFly is based in Austin, Texas, and has 34 locations in the U.S., including in Rosemont.
“Naperville is a growing community that has a lot of families, and young and adults alike, who I think are going to really enjoy this experience,” Janossy said. “Families, friends, corporations can do something totally new and fresh for their people and their kids that they’re never going to forget.”
If you go
What: iFly Indoor Skydiving
When: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday
Where: 1752 Freedom Drive
Information: 779-456-4359, www.chicago.iflyworld.com