I promised myself long ago that I would never skydive. Why jump out of a plane that works? Still, the idea of that sensation, that rush of falling through the atmosphere was always sort of tugging at me. Sort of.
Now, it tugs in a different direction, thanks to iFly Utah in Ogden. If you’ve ever wanted to know what it feels like to skydive, to fly free of gravity but in a very safe, sane environment, you should give iFly Utah a try.
That’s what I did to help celebrate my wife’s birthday. I’m nothing if not sentimental (“Hey honey, to celebrate your birth, let’s pretend we’re jumping out of a plane.”) She’s a bit of a daredevil, and she motivates me to leave my comfort zone, which experiencing weightlessness definitely was (and still is). We ventured to the iFly Utah at the Salomon Center in Ogden. In addition to the indoor skydiving, Salomon offers iROCK (a 55-ft climbing wall), Flowrider Utah (indoor simulated surfing), a Gold’s Gym, and Fat Cats—which serves up a 32-lane bowling alley, miniature golf, arcade, pool and bumper cars. The complex recently celebrated its fifth anniversary in Ogden.
iFly Utah is a virtual wind tunnel moving air vertically. You soar on that column of air, using the same technology that many of the world’s skydivers have used for training. Our instructor, Tom Galvez (he was very patient with me, while my wife, of course, soared like an eagle from minute one, as you can see above), prepared us with some simple training before we were suited up. And we were suited up. A jumpsuit, goggles, a helmet and some last minute instructions prepared us for our step into the VWT (we speak the jargon of skydivers now around here). A second instructor monitors the speed of the airflow, so rookies get a gradual introduction into flying. Safety is paramount at iFly.
And make no mistake—you are flying (see old man flying at left). This is not a simulator. The iFly experience gives each participant an idea of not only what it feels like to float on air, but also how the wind feels in your face when you’re free falling to Earth at who-knows-how-many miles an hour.
The website for iFly (www.iflyutah.com) states that “skydivers love freefall because it’s the closest possible thing to true human flight.” First-time flyers like me, along with those who are experienced or return for more flights, are made to feel comfortable and assured. And once your initial solo flights (the instructor is right beside you) are over, then that same instructor will help you fly tandem with him to the top of the tunnel. My wife liked that part a lot.
“It was incredible—I loved every second of it,” she said. “Yes, I’d like to try skydiving next, I think. I’m sure you feel the same way, right?”
I assume she was talking to the guy behind me. Nonetheless, this is an experience that is so different and so unique that almost everyone should give it a try.
iFly Utah is located at 2261 Kiesel Ave. in Ogden. Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Visit the website, or learn more about the Salomon Center online at www.salomoncenter.com.