If you are looking for indoor skydiving Brisbane style, then you are in luck!
There’s a new indoor skydiving facility at iFly Brisbane, and when Families Magazine was invited to meet lead flight instructor Jarrad Kline for a Q&A session we jumped at the chance. Our first question was, do we get to try? Oh boy, the answer was yes! But more on that later…
First, let me tell you a little about the venue.
Indoor skydiving Brisbane location
iFly Brisbane is located at the Westfield Chermside complex, just 10km north of Brisbane. It opened in May 2019 to provide thrill seekers of all ages and abilities the opportunity to experience the sensation of skydiving in a safe and controlled environment.
The entrance is on the outside (near the food court) at 395 Hamilton Road. The moment you walk in you are greeted by friendly enthusiastic staff, and adrenaline begins to pump as you can SEE the tunnel from the entrance! After completing the waiver and being weighed, it’s time to meet your instructor.
Questions we asked lead flight instructor Jarrad Kline:
Jarrad was very obliging (we asked a LOT of questions). You’ll love these answers!
Did you have experience as a Skydiver before becoming an iFLY instructor? If yes, do you still jump out of planes?
Yes, I have around 5000 jumps. I do still jump just not as often as I’d like.
What made you decide to become an iFLY instructor?
With skydiving you are limited to the amount of people you can share your passion with on a daily basis and generally they have to be 14 or older. Here I get to teach and fly with so many people of all ages every single day.
What’s the best part of the job, in your opinion?
Definitely giving the experience of flight to people who thought it not possible. Physical or mental disabilities are no obstacle for us and when you get to be a part of giving that dream of flight to them it is a truly powerful and unforgettable experience.
Any memorable iFLY tales to tell (something that happened to you or someone else)?
There was one here in Brisbane just the other day that’ll clutch the heart strings. A brother of a wheelchair-bound sister came in to fly. It was just the brother flying and the sister was only watching. She was just happy to get out of the house and watch she said. When I mentioned that she could also fly they really didn’t believe me. We set them up for our all abilities night and there was still scepticism.
They came in on the night, we geared her up and the tears from the family started flowing once she started flying. They said she just gets to be out of her wheelchair to go to bed. She was able to feel free and fly for the first time in her life. The family and herself were overcome by the emotionally powerful experience, one they never thought possible.
It says iFLY is suitable for ages 3-103. How old was the oldest/youngest person you’ve instructed? How did that go?
I have taken people within that range. The oldest I believe was a lady in San Antonio, 97 years young. I still haven’t hit the 100 yet but am willing if you know anyone willing. I have taken 3-year old’s and I think younger, if a parent says their child is 3 it’s not like we can check their licences. Haha
What’s your favourite go-to trick in the iFLY tunnel?
For sure my head stand trick that I do, blows people away…. again!
What makes indoor skydiving better than any other activity?
The simplicity that there is nothing else like it. It is a totally new experience and the sensation of weightlessness and body flight is second to none.
Who would you recommend indoor skydiving to?
Anyone and everyone, as I said there really is no limitation to who can do this.
Why should we encourage children to try iFLY? (Not that mine needed any encouraging!)
It takes kids out of their comfort zone and helps build confidence as well as it just being crazy fun. There is a true sense of accomplishment that comes with the experience, and the more you fly, the more you learn, the more it’s multiplied.
Why should we encourage their parents to try too?
Because it’ll turn you into a kid as well. The looks on everyone’s faces are the same from 3-103. So many parents come in saying I’m just doing this to be there for my child, but once they get in there, they are blown back in time to the giddiness of adolescence. Not to mention the obvious it’s just a great experience to share with your loved ones.
Can regular iFLY flights help my kids with other sports?
It can for sure, it takes great body awareness for you to take control of your body in flight, core stability and balance are keys and this can translate into other areas of not only sport but life. I also believe it could be used to a degree for physical therapy, helping engage dormant muscles and even muscles you never knew existed.
Can regular iFLY flights help my kids in other areas of their lives?
Of course, as I said the more you fly the more you can learn and this will in turn boost confidence and strength. Also, because it’s out of the norm it’s something special to brag to your friends about.
If my kids wanted to take up indoor skydiving as a serious hobby, what would be required, and what sort of things would they learn?
I would recommend they begin in our Flight School which we off at a discounted rate for kids. We hold them every Monday and Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings. What is truly required is the devotion of time not only from the children but the parents. Consistency is key and it’s up to you to become part of the journey with them.
As for what they will learn, the sky’s the limit. We have a flight path in place that we cater to the individual.
Are the skills learned in indoor skydiving the same as those learned in real skydiving?
The free fall aspects of body flight directly correlate to outdoor skydiving, you still need a parachute out there though.
Can indoor skydiving take the place of a regular gym workout to improve physical conditioning?
I believe it could be. I’m a fitness junkie and think it’s a reason to go to the gym so you can be fit and strong to be able to become a better flyer.
We then asked Jarrad how iFly compares to real skydiving
How long does it typically take to come to land in a real skydive, and is an iFLY the equivalent length or longer?
Our flights that we offer are actually longer. The average skydive is around 40 seconds of freefall before you reach a safe minimum opening altitude for your parachute. Depending on the performance of your parachute will determine how fast you land. Some are designed to be very slow and others extremely fast.
If you were free-falling to earth instead of in an iFLY tunnel, how far would you travel in the same length of time as an iFLY session?
That would depend on how much time you would like to spend in the tunnel, we don’t have a limit like a skydive. On a jump you fall 1000ft every 4-5 seconds. So, the equivalent would be around 15,000ft in 60 seconds which is our minimum flight length.
How easy is it to learn to change your altitude and do flips?
It really depends on the individual and the learning curve. People to learn at different speeds. Our main priority is safety so we will teach you how to control it and only let you do it once it’s safe to do so.
How high up the tunnel are you allowed to fly?
The sky is the limit as long as you can control it, in the beginning because safety is our main concern, we will generally try to keep you within reach. Once you have been taught and have learnt that control up you go.
How much strength and fitness is really required?
Not too much for basic flight as the wind does hold you up but you do have to apply some pressure on the wind to hold the body position which does take a little effort.
Is it noisy in the tunnel? How do you communicate?
It can be noisy but we supply hearing protection for all who fly. We don’t talk in the tunnel we teach simple hand signals to correct your body position.
OK, time for the classroom
Before you suit up for flight, everyone has a brief session in the classroom to learn the hand signals and how to safely enter and leave the wind tunnel. You will also be shown a brief video of some of the incredible stunts and acrobatics that can be learned. If it’s designed to inspire you, it certainly works! But of course, after seeing these amazing stunts, some parents may have a few extra questions.
The serious (Mums doing risk assessment) questions:
Can you accidentally travel too high, or hit the fan?
No, we will keep you within reach for the entirety of the flights, even if by some chance you did get away from us we have a separate person controlling the power of the wind and they can easily dial it back to bring you down slowly. Also, even if that didn’t happen the fans are on the roof not underneath you like most people believe them to be. We couldn’t hit them even if we wanted to.
Is it possible to fall if you don’t maintain your body position?
Not fall we would say you’d just stop flying, it’s the instructor’s job to keep you safe the whole time not allowing you to touch the net or walls. Even if you touch the net it is like a trampoline, well a trampoline that can hold hundreds of tons of weight.
If a child has a disability, can their carer enter the tunnel with them, or do extra instructors go in to help?
The carer can be in the waiting area with them but they won’t be able to come in whilst they are flying. All our instructors are trained to handle these situations and if extra assistance is needed, we will provide.
Is it possible to get altitude sickness or air sickness?
No one has ever thrown up in the tunnel. Perhaps some motion sickness but we also don’t have to spin or move if you are inclined to such sickness.
How much training do iFLY instructors undertake, and have you all experienced real skydiving?
All our instructors go through a vigorous one month training program where we cover every aspect of the profession. We have the most in-depth instructor training program within the industry. It isn’t a requirement for you to be a skydiver or even have done a skydive.
Are there any physical limitations that should be disclosed first, e.g. previously broken bones, joint injuries, asthma etc.?
The main thing we ask is if you have had any neck, back, shoulder or heart issues.
Of course, the children had somewhat more important questions to ask!
Can you still do those aerial tricks like linking together to form stars or patterns?
You can do all of these with the right amount of training. It just takes time but learning it is super fun.
Have you ever had a James Bond moment where you just want to swoop down on a villain and pretend to steal his parachute?
Haha, no but we have had a lot of fun doing skits in there. We did one for the Origin not long ago. Go check out the video on our Facebook page.
If you’re face-up instead of facing the ground, does it feel like gravity has been reversed and you’re falling upwards?
It can but by the time you are doing these manoeuvres you would be more used to the different orientations you fly in.
Can you control your altitude by burping like Grandpa and Charlie did in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?
Haha, I’m not sure, come and give it a try then you tell me. (Nope – you just fog up your helmet!)
Can you do a tandem iFLY with your dog, like I’ve seen real Skydivers do on YouTube?
No, there have been dogs that have flown but you won’t be able to take them in with you. They are welcome to come along and watch though as well as they are well behaved. (A little note on this; Jarrad’s own dog, Luther, always goes to work with him. He’s a lovely little terrier and quite at home in the iFly centre.)
Everyone I see in iFLY videos looks really happy. Are they grinning for real or is it the force of the wind pulling their cheeks back?
They are grinning for real, it’s so much fun it’s hard not to, or maybe you’re laughing because your cheeks are flapping all about.
Who flies? I fly! Who flew? We flew!
The kids were pretty keen to get out there and fly, so we were fitted for our flight suits, full face helmets and ear defenders. The flight suit is worn over your regular clothes, and a locker is provided for your valuables, including any loose jewellery. Lace up shoes (trainers) are best because shoes are worn in the tunnel but you don’t want them to fly off!
After a brief discussion about which order we would fly in (Master 13 was mad keen, Miss 15 a little nervous) we were lead into the flight waiting area. The fans were started and Master 13 belly-flopped through the door to be caught by the wind – and Jarrad. We all had two flights, lasting about a minute each, and how did it feel? Exhilarating! Exciting! A little nerve-wracking as the buffeting wind initially took your breath away, but the kids described it as the most amazing sensation of freedom. Jarrad spun us around, pointed us at the camera, raised us up and down, and fixed our flying stance so we could hover unassisted.
For our second flights Jarrad took us up to the top of the tunnel – it was a sudden rush like being sucked up a vacuum, but completely controlled by Jarrad who had hold of our suits the whole time. We spiralled down in a rapid helter-skelter to be whooshed back up again! Master 13 said he was whooping and yelling the whole time, but his voice was lost to the wind. Even Miss 15, who admitted before going that she was more than a little scared, couldn’t wait to get back in the tunnel – and so it was that they ended up having an extra flight each. For the third go they were allowed to take a running dive into the tunnel, while I watched from the viewing area.
Jarrad showed us what could be done
We asked Jarrad to demonstrate the skills and tricks that can be learned in indoor skydiving, just to give us a taste of what’s possible. The tunnel is 12 foot wide and Jarrad is fairly tall, but when Jarrad was in there it was like watching the special effect in a science fiction movie.
He hung suspended in the air upside down like Spiderman, hovered like Ironman, swooped, glided, spiralled, twirled and flew as if controlled by cables, but with complete weightlessness. My favourite trick was when he appeared to be sucked backwards out of the door catching the doorframe with his feet, leaned backwards to high-five Master 13 in the waiting area, then swooped back in up to the top of the tunnel. I’d love to say we caught it on camera, but I missed it. Here is a quick view of the tricks I did catch though – wait for that exit!
You might think that a minute’s flight time doesn’t sound very long, but it took a bit of concentration the first time with Jarrad giving hand signals to help us adjust our flight position, and spinning us up and down, and a couple of 60-second flights was plenty.
All the staff were wonderful in creating excitement and anticipation, and very keen to see that everyone enjoyed their experience. We were told to expect to sleep well that night, and just strolling back through the shopping centre we all felt utterly relaxed and pleasantly sleepy.
Master 13 was instantly hooked on the thrill of the experience, and talked me into buying a reduced price “return flight” package. He can’t wait to go back again, and would like to join the Flight Club – a club for kids to learn the skills of indoor skydiving. Surprisingly, Miss 15, who claims to be afraid of flying, can’t wait to go back either. Both want to experience the VR flight next time, where flyers can choose to experience skydiving over the Swiss Alps, Dubai desert, and several other destinations through a virtual reality headset.
As for 40-something me, would I do it again? Yes I would! It had long been a dream to experience actual sky diving, but I’m very much a risk assessor and gave up the dream when I became a mum. Indoor skydiving enabled me to recapture some of that dream, and I would happily go again.
Visit iFly Brisbane
Location: 395 Hamilton Road, Chermside
Website: Click here.