Be the best flyer you can be


  • 19 Jul 2018 2:30 PM | Deleted user
    By: K Trevor Thompson: iFLY executive responsible for new tunnel openings

    I’ve always found the whole new tunnel journey to be an exciting one, but the last few days before opening are particularly exhilarating. In just 5 days we go from an active construction site, to open for business.

    At the start of the week, while the construction dust starts to settle, we begin to install all of our systems. This includes all the point of sales, check in kiosks, TV’s and much more. Once installation is complete, we test the systems, do final inspections on the wind tunnel equipment and ensure that everything is 100% ready to go.

    The next day we have the rest of our furniture, fixtures and equipment delivered and installed. This includes the tunnels appliances, lockers, flight gear and observation furniture. It’s a lot of pieces for one day, so we do try to space it out, but, as we are at the mercy of the construction progress, it doesn’t always work out like this. Sometimes it just has to happen all at once. 

    (Pic above shows the next iFLY tunnel to open in Queenstown, New Zealand)

    Opening tunnels requires a lot of flexibility. No location has the same requirements. When we can move the items into the building varies by each region and in the US, buy county. Flexibility and communication with all the companies that deliver and install the items, is vital. We simply cannot violate those laws, nor can afford a delay in opening to the public.

    Throughout the construction of the iFLY building, there are inspections which basically allow the next phase to happen. For example, we cannot put the drywall up until we pass inspections for electric. If for some reason we do not pass an inspection the construction team turns their focus to that item to make the changes and re-inspect. If this occurs, the construction team must reach out to scheduled dry wall personnel and let them know that they need to be rescheduled. Once we get our final building, fire and code enforcement inspection signed off, then we can open to the public and the final leg of the marathon begins.

    Getting our fresh, newly built tunnel to appear as though construction has been completed for months actually occurs in 24 hours after receiving what is called our temporary certificate of occupancy (TCO). This is when the magic happens! The entire space gets a final clean to remove any hint of the work that has happened, all spaces get stocked, staged and ready for our first guests. This is the final push to move into and occupy the facility. We work very hard to ensure we are perfect and can put our best foot forward to welcome our guests.

    24 hours later, the time has come to accept our first flyers and the opening team can breathe a bit easier, but the work is not quite over. We watch carefully for anything that is not 100% as it should be fix anything that needs fixing at the time and take notes of items that need to be addressed by construction personnel at a later date. If, within about 2 hours after opening we deem the building is 100% ready, then we move on to the next tunnel opening.

    What a great job!

  • 18 Jul 2018 3:30 PM | Deleted user

    Recently, the team at iFLY Milton Keynes were thrilled to welcome their oldest ever flyer to the wind tunnel. Eva Lewis, a fearless great-grandmother, was joined in the tunnel by three generations of family members who organised the cross-generational skydive as a special gift for Eva’s 102nd birthday.

    Eva was unquestionably the star of the show. Although this was the first time she had tried indoor skydiving, Eva is no stranger to thrill-seeking experiences. For her 101st birthday, she enjoyed an acrobatic aeroplane flight in a Spitfire. When asked after her flight if she would do it again, Eva said "Yes, another 3 or 4 goes should be enough to really get the hang of it". What a gal!


    Eva's relience and determination to keep on living life to the max is an example to us all. Do we choose to grow old gracefully and quietly, or do we decide that we will refuse to let age be a barrier to exploring new experiences? At iFLY we know which side of the coin we intend to land on.

    Thank you Eva. You are a sheer inspiration.

  • 1 May 2018 12:54 PM | Deleted user

    Luca Montagnese, senior instructor and newly appointed General Manager at iFLY Manchester, recently took up adifferent kind of 'office' aboard the Royal Caribbean Ovation of the Seas. The view from the window has never been so good:

    Which boat did you go on, where did it sail and how long were you away for?
    I was on the Ovation of the Sea, one of the largest cruise ships operated by Royal Caribbean. We were sailing from Sydney around New Zeland and backto Sydney. I did three different cruises for five weeks in total.

    What was the the most different thing about working in a tunnel on a boat?
    Definitely the view around the tunnel. Because the tunnel is on the top deck you can enjoy some truly beautiful scenery, in remote locations, while you are working...

    What was your happiest memory of the trip?
    I did really enjoy the south of New Zeland and particularly a white water rafting day in the forest with all the staff. We filled 7 boats which hurtled down this amazing river. It was a great experience!

    What did you miss the most?
    The team and customers in Manchester of course! Oh, and some home cooked Italian food.  

    What would your advice be to any iFLY instructor given the opportunity to work on a boat?
    It is fundamental to be a good team player and consistently show the professionalism that personifys an iFLY instructor. 

    What was it like to return to your home tunnel and dry land?
    The experience on the cruise ship is quite intense as we work, train, socialise, eat, party and pretty much do everything with the same people. This is good and essentially it really makes the team unique and very supportive of each other. When you sign off the ship, it seems you go back to another life... who knows which is the best one?

  • 22 Feb 2018 2:16 PM | Matt Lippert (Administrator)

    Dan Crawford - iFLY onboard Anthem of the Seas

    In 2013, a new milestone in the history of indoor skydiving was created when the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Quantum of the Seas, took to the water with a new attraction on board. Yes, cruise ship fans could now enjoy onboard indoor skydiving. Not only was this great for the customer, but it opened up new opportunities for the iFLY instructor. Dan Crawford, senior instructor at iFLY Basingstoke, recently experienced 'flying on water'. 

    Here's what he had to report:

    Which boat did you go on, where did it sail and how long were you away for? 

    Anthem of the Seas. Cape Liberty, Cape Carnaveral, Coco Cay, Nassau, back to Cape Liberty x 3 cruises.

    What was the the most different thing about working in a tunnel on a boat? 
    Everything from the gear up, to the Declaration of Risk process, to allocated tunnel times, the de-gear, the size of the tunnel. Most impressive is the panoramic views of the ocean and the city skylines.

    What was your happiest memory of the trip? 
    Snorkelling with sea turtles in the Bahamas. Yes, we did get some downtime!

    What did you miss the most? 
    Open space, the ship can feel a little claustrophobic after 4 weeks. I'm a big lad and I need a bit of room!

    What would your advice be to any iFLY instructor given the opportunity to work on a boat? 

    Be humble, and don't be lazy. We are given a great opportunity and even in paradise we still need to work hard. 

    What was it like to return to your home tunnel and dry land? 
    Refreshing, and spacious! Two of my colleagues came to pick me up from the airport, so it felt great to be back! (Ant and Izzie. Was lovely to see their beaming smiles again, after so many months away).

  • 5 Jul 2017 4:26 PM | Deleted user

    My name is Emma and in the space of one and a half years, indoor skydiving has totally transformed my life. I came to iFLY Milton Keynes as a 20-year-old receptionist, who was happy to get some free flight time as a perk of the job. I’d already been in the tunnel four or five times, but becoming an instructor was the last thing on my mind. I was just pleased to be dealing with customers at the desk, who regardless of how they arrived (there are always some who feel a little nervous), almost always left with a massive smile on their face. It was simply a cool job when compared with what many of my friends were doing.

    Things began to change as I jumped in the wind tunnel at every opportunity, inspired by the amazing skills of the various instructors. With their encouragement, my progress was rapid and it slowly began to dawn on me, that I could get good enough to trade in my receptionist uniform for an instructor suit. I was aware that one of the instructors, Cameron, had also started out on reception. Perhaps it was time to show that this girl might do similar.

    As all in the industry know, the fitness demands of the Flight Instructor Training Programme (FITP) are intense. When I reached this stage in May 2017, I was determined not to fail. I was aware that some had reservations about my feisty nature - I do wear my heart on my sleeve - but Andy Godwin, GM at Milton Keynes was hugely encouraging and kept me focused on the end game. Aimee Southwell, one of only two other female instructors currently working in the UK, was also immensely supportive. At the back of the mind, I was determined not to let the girls down!

    When I heard the news I had passed, I can honestly say it was one of the proudest moments of my life. Two months in and I’m simply loving it. Each day I get to share the buzz that every customer gets, when they experience the dream of flight for the very first time. It’s no exaggeration to say that, for some, flying in the tunnel can be life changing. At a minimum, it’s a memory they will cherish for a very long time.

    Who knows what the future may bring? If I keep up my current rate of progression, becoming a trainer or a coach is not off limits. I’m also excited about how technology might create new opportunities for developing the flight experience. Games such as tunnel ball, which iFLY recently introduced, are only the start.

    There’s lots to look forward to. This sport is only going to grow. Bring it on.

  • 25 May 2017 4:18 PM | Deleted user

    One of indoor skydiving’s favourite topics is flyer progression. We talk about it endlessly. We could even be guilty of talking about it as experienced flyers rather than from a first-timer’s viewpoint. We forget that we know the language, can see the end the game and understand the pathway. You may recall seeing the logos, charts and name of the IBA - International Bodyflight Association. They are not only responsible for the qualifications and ratings of the Instructor crew but they have done a comprehensive job in identifying pathways and flyer levels too. To the beginner, these can appear daunting, complex, out of reach, or all three.

    To help our fledgling flyers we have taken a fresh approach at the iFLY tunnels and launched our new Wings system that takes some of the earlier flight skills and lays them out in a simple, clear and achievable way. Our aim is to help get flyers into the tunnel, reach new heights and even start to compete with new found flying buddies.

    We’ve taken some cues from the belt systems employed by the various martial arts and, at the same time, tried to keep it pretty simple. As a novice flyer, you earn your White Wings by simply demonstrating a stable flying position. For some, this might happen on your first experience. For others, it may be on your second visit. Basic human desire to achieve is built in:

    “Woo Hoo, I’ve got my White Wings, what’s next?”


    “Darn, I didn’t get my Wings this time. Okay I’m definitely going to nail it next time!”.

    Whether you are competing with yourself or with friends, the effect is going to be the same – you want those Wings, you want to learn but you also want to know what’s next.

    Over successive flight sessions you will progress through Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple and Red. By the time you get here, we reckon you’re a pretty accomplished flyer. How long it takes is down to you. All we can guarantee is some great instruction, encouragement, new friends and a totally supportive environment.

    Next time you visit the tunnel listen out for the bells, the clapping and whooping & hollering of celebration (we are now owned by Americans after all). That’s the sound of someone earning their Wings. In other words, the sound of success and what we believe is the key to growing the fantastic sport of indoor skydiving.

  • 18 Apr 2017 4:09 PM | Deleted user

    18 years ago, the first SkyVenture Vertical Wind Tunnel was born in Orlando, FL. In April 2017, a new iFLY wind tunnel, or should we say two new tunnels, open on International Drive, Florida. "The Twins" as they are affectionately known, mark the end of one era and the dawn of another. 

    Jennifer Sensenbaugh takes a look back and a look forward. Here's how it all began:

    1997: Mike Palmer designs the first vertical wind tunnel for Bill Kitchen, the owner of SkyCoaster, as another fun tourist attraction in the Orlando & Disney area. 

    1998: In September, SkyVenture Orlando on International Drive opens its doors. It is the first patented wall-to-wall airflow wind tunnel, 12-ft in diameter with an octagonal shape. This original design has 5 fans at the top with no recirculating wind, no climate control, and no doors that could open and close during the flight session. Despite not having all of the bells & whistles the new designs have, this technology was innovative, revolutionary, and state-of-the-art for its time.

    1998-2000: SkyVenture Orlando struggles to appeal to both the skydiver market and first time flyers. The skydiver community is skeptical. 

    2000: SkyVenture Orlando starts to grow its appeal for 1st time flyers and gains some success from the busy tourist market.
    2001: Airspeed and Alan Metni create www.tunnelcamp.com. With this influence from the top skydiving teams in the world, skydivers begin to recognize the wind tunnel as a powerful training tool, and game changer for the industry.

    2002: Alan Metni joins SkyVenture as CEO 

    2005: SkyVenture sells SkyVenture Orlando to a private company. It continues to operate as popular entertainment to both first time flyers, and skydivers utilizing it as a training tool. 

    2010: SkyVenture buys the Orlando tunnel back, and rebrands it as iFLY Orlando shortly after that. 

    2010-2016: As multiple other updated design facilities in the US open, iFLY Orlando consistently operates in the top tier of high performing wind tunnels in the world.

    And now...

    The new iFLY Orlando facility consists of two, 12 ft. recirculating wind tunnels each built as single loop, one return air towers. The flight chambers are ground level and function independently of each other with separate driving booths. The construction includes a meeting room, party room, and open glass viewing area where spectators can see from the outside of the building. 

    The new building will mark the closing of the original tunnel. If those old octagonal plexi-glass tunnel walls could talk, they could tell some great stories. From numerous paint jobs on the outside, having the check-in desk/retail area in a separate trailer from the tunnel, walking up three flights of stairs to get to the flight deck, multiple cats living on property, lines out the door during high seasons, using an 8 stack DVD burner to get customers their photos and video, and having to tell customers you’re on a weather hold because it’s raining in the tunnel.

    May she rest in peace.

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