CHS students soar at the new iFly location

By Vicky Gunawan, Observations Editor

Skydiving. Some find jumping out of a plane thrill-inducing and fascinating, while others find it spine-chilling and intimidating. Now, however, those frightened by skydiving no longer have to worry about not being able to experience it, as a less daunting alternative has just opened up near MCPS.

iFly, the indoor skydiving facility that first opened in Orlando, Fl. in 1998, recently opened iFly Montgomery in Md. Alan Metni, the original CEO of iFly, was a professional skydiver who wanted a safe place for him and his friends to practice free falling before competing in the air.

“We want everyone that visits iFly Montgomery to experience the dream of flight,” general manager of iFly Montgomery Kathryn Eckert said. “There is nowhere else that you can experience this feeling of free fall without actually having to jump out of an airplane.”

Guests must make a reservation prior to visiting, which can easily be made on the iFly website. The iFly experience usually lasts around 60 to 90 minutes. Guests check in with a customer service representative who then gives them a wristband and explains the whole experience.

According to a Apr. 2017 Bloomberg article, indoor skydiving is nowhere near as expensive as actual skydiving, which can cost as much as $400 per jump and typically lasts only about a minute before it’s time to pull the parachute.

After receiving a wristband, flyers then go up to the Flight Deck and meet their Flight Instructor. The Flight Instructor gets them fitted for a flight suit, goggles and a helmet. Once the guest is suited up, there is a training and safety class, and then it’s time to fly. Following the flight experience, there is time to de-gear and view photos and videos taken during the flight.

“I’m so glad that iFly opened in Montgomery County because it’s such a unique spot to hang out with friends,” freshman Kelly Yu said. “I’m definitely going to go there soon.”

In addition to the entertainment it brings to people, indoor skydiving can also serve as a method of therapy.

According to a Feb. 2018 ABC article, a third grader from Valrico, Fl., who was diagnosed with an auditory processing and sensory disorder that impacted his school life, was able to cease medication use because of his visits to the iFly facility.

“iFly was a cool and amazing experience,” junior Ashley Weaver said. “Now that one has opened up in the area, I’ll definitely visit soon.”