“I’ve always wanted to go skydiving,” I assure myself as I anxiously enter a 60-foot-tall flight chamber in a floppy blue jumpsuit, goggles, and helmet. Next thing you know, I’m hovering a few meters off the ground, my body floating untethered and aimless inside what looks like a giant test tube. Within a few seconds, my stomach stops doing somersaults. My fear eases. I am defying gravity.
At iFLY Baltimore, anyone can feel that same sensation—of letting go and soaring upwards. Since August 2016, patrons from ages three to 103 have been able to experience the feeling of a free fall at this White Marsh center, the sole Maryland branch for the global indoor-skydiving chain.
From the get-go, “Baltimore embraced the idea of something new and adventurous,” says lead instructor Kris Reynolds. Adds sales coordinator Katie Tillman, “People would drive by on I-95 and come in asking, ‘Where do you jump from?’”
But fliers don’t jump from anything—they simply watch a quick instructional video, go over the required hand signals, gear up, step into the chamber, and lean into a smooth column of air generated by vertical wind tunnel technology and adjusted to the individual’s weight and skill level with the help of a certified instructor.
iFLY offers packages for both beginners and pros. There are also Flight School programs for kids, STEM field trip options, and weekly events such as “All Abilities Night” for fliers with special needs and “Tunnel Thursdays” for experienced skydivers. Even college students can float, thanks to a new discount program for scholars.
Skydiving is an expensive hobby, “but tunnel flying is like going to the bowling alley—you can go do it right now,” says Reynolds, as first-time flights at iFLY cost less than $70, compared to a tandem skydive’s $250. “After all,” adds general manager Brandon McMann, “our mission is delivering the dream of flight to everyone.”
Fly on the Wall
Writer Micah Costelo steps inside the chamber to try iFLY for herself.