I recently mentioned I had exciting plans for the beginning of January. My first day in a PR post-grad was pushed back a week. I had HOPED to finish my skydiver training course and/or obtain my A license. I found some dropzones with programs to learn the skills to get an A license in one week. Unfortunately, this meant going somewhere warm (not Canada) with all the associated costs of traveling. My procrastination on booking and not having enough free days, convinced me to put these plans on hold. I will either wait for spring in Canada or another break from classes.
I was determined to make my week off busy and useful if I could not skydive.
I booked tunnel time at iFly Toronto, thanks to a gift certificate from my mom.
This location is new and gaining in popularity. The facility feels huge and modern. There are touch screens at sign in, a bank of customer service agents, and many training rooms. I had 4 trips in the tunnel or 4 minutes in total. My instructor and I decided to do this in two, 2 minute intervals.
I was put in a group with similar skill levels. The instructor took us to a training room to explain hand signals and body position, etc.
If you are new to the tunnel, but want to learn skills for skydiving, make sure to tell the instructor beforehand. This way they can focus on skydiving skills. Without a skydiving license, they require a demonstration of safe tunnel skills and you will be grouped with a mix of first timers. Many guests attend for a one time/cross it off the bucket list experience. My group had several younger teens (even with a booking at 7:30pm), but a later weekday evening might avoid this.
After the lesson, we were outfitted in a suit, helmet, goggles and ear plugs — the wind tunnel is loud! As the group seemed reluctant, I volunteered to go first.
There is nothing graceful about entering the tunnel for the first time. The instructors soar up and down the tunnel, making it all look effortless — believe me the first time is not so easy. It involved pushing my upper body into the wind and trying to drag my legs in behind me.
My first thought was how similar it felt to skydiving. The air rushed by my face and I held my mouth firmly closed. Despite earplugs the wind roared in my ears.
My second thought was (in a way) how much more difficult the tunnel is. In the air, you do not perceive small moves left to right or minimal changes in altitude. In the enclosed environment of the tunnel, these things become quickly obvious — walls in close proximity will do that. I fluctuated between flying low or almost too high. I also experienced difficultly staying centered.
I was stable quicker on my second turn, but tended to fly high — just above my instructor’s head. He communicated to bend my knees more to fly lower. I tend to drop a knee while in a hard arch, making me unstable and therefore I was reluctant to keep that position. This is a skill I need to continue to practice.
When I started skydiving, I often had pain in my hips. The same pain started while working in the tunnel, so I now know to practice stretching before any type of skydiving.
Overall, iFly was fun, although the facility feels a bit too commercial. I hope if I go later, I will avoid the conveyor of people in and out.
I left with the realization of how valuable the tunnel is for new skydivers. You can perfect freefall skills with an instructor close by in a low stress environment. I can improve body position and build skills in preparation of my course. I already feel I will be more confident when I get back in the air this spring.