When you were holding your newborn daughter or son in your arms, all those years ago, snuggling them close and trying to protect them from the dangers of the world, you probably would have slapped us silly for suggesting that someday you’d consider taking them skydiving… well, indoor skydiving, that is. But, it’s true – you’re considering it, aren’t you?

Families around the world (there are even locations in Singapore and Dubai!), are taking up indoor skydiving as their new favorite pastime and families in Seattle and San Francisco are on board as well – as evidenced by the packed waiting rooms at both iFLY locations and the weekends that are booked to the brim with iFLY birthday parties.

But, let’s talk details, because you’re sure to still be skeptical.

Who Can Fly:
The iFLY website says that flyers can be ages three and up and owner and CEO of the Seattle location, Bill Adams, says that they’ve flown children that young. Bill, a father of two young children himself, both who also love to fly, tells us that it’s best to wait until children are able to follow instructions well. When you visit iFLY, you’ll notice that there entire families participating – from grandparents to grandchildren, and everyone in between. We agree that children who are able to listen well and follow instructions will be best for the iFLY experience – there are hand signals that every flyer learns pre-flight so that their instructor can communicate with them in the tunnel (put your chin up, make your legs straight, relax, etc.) and your child needs to be old enough to follow these instructions during their flight.

What to Expect Pre-Flight:
When you get to iFLY, you have some time to watch other flyers take their turn and even catch some of the instructors, who are trained professionals themselves, do a quick demonstration. Don’t get to iFLY too early because there is already some waiting pre-flight, so kids many get antsy (or nervous!) if you are there too long. When your group is up, you’ll get suited up (wear comfy, lightweight clothes and shoes with laces!) and spend some time with your instructor learning about how to fly and what to expect. You can ask lots of questions, if you have them, and they’ll get you fitted in a helmet and goggles. iFLY has kid-sized gear to make sure everything fits properly, which is important to having a great flight!

The Actual Flight:
In most cases, you’ll be in a group of up to eight flyers, rotating through the group, so that you each get a turn (or two, depending on the package you purchased.) When your turn is up, you’ll stand at the tunnel door, put your arms on your chest and lean forward into the arms of the instructor, who will help you into the tunnel. There’s no lag time – you start flying immediately! For children, the instructors will keep them close, even wrapping their arms around their tummies to make sure they feel safe before letting them go a little more as they become more comfortable (which they do quickly!).

Tips:
Don’t forget to tie long hair back – girls need to have it in a low ponytail, rather than a bun, which will be tucked up into their helmet. Also, Bill suggests picking up a pack of kid-sized earplugs at the drugstore before coming for your flight – they look like Silly Putty and are much easier to get a good fit in little ears than the traditional earplugs they stock at iFLY. Also, the flight itself is quite the sensory experience – it’s loud (just like if you were jumping out of a plane!) and the wind really clears out your sinuses! Tell your kids to keep their mouth open a little, which will help relieve the pressure of all the air going up their nose!

And, most importantly, HAVE FUN! While watching a child take their first flight at iFLY Seattle, Bill says, with a grin on his face, that it’s almost more fun to watch the parents who are watching their kids experience indoor skydiving…. And we have to agree, it’s true!

iFLY Seattle also offers birthday parties and camps for kids, including upcoming spring break camps.

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iFLY Seattle
349 Tukwila Parkway (near Southcenter Mall)
Tukwila, Washington
206-244-iFLY (4359)
Online: www.iFLYseattle.com

iFLY SF Bay
31310 Alvarado-Niles Road
Union City, California
510-489-iFLY (4359)
Online: www.iFLYsfbay.com

Have you taken your kids indoor skydiving? Share your experience with us in the comments below!

— Katie Kavulla