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Big Smiles at iFLY Brisbane

Jumping out of a perfectly good aeroplane is not for everyone. So, if you want to try skydiving without the risks, iFLY Brisbane is the perfect alternative. It’s safe, fun and a lot cheaper than a tandem skydive.

I’m standing next to the wind tunnel at the new iFLY Brisbane at Chermside for the first time and the nerves are kicking in. It feels like I have butterflies wearing Dr Martens doing a disco dance in my stomach.

Like any new experience, first-time flyers might get a bit nervous but – believe me – about five seconds into the flight you will be grinning from ear to ear. You might be drooling a bit as well.

Top tip: remember to close your mouth. You’ll look a whole lot cooler in the photos and won’t splatter the instructor with drool.  

First Flight at Brisbane iFLY
First flight at iFLY Brisbane

Rosie, one of the iFly instructors, welcomes me to Brisbane iFLY and shows me around their new purpose-built facility.

The place is pretty flash with lots of curved bench seating wrapped around a large Perspex cylinder. However, what really gets my attention is the guy in the iFLY chamber doing flips, spins and rolls.

I am impressed and already guessing I’m probably not going to be doing anything like that today. However, it’s great watching a pro iFlyer do their thing.

“That’s Jarrad he’s going to be your instructor today,” says Rosie. My butterflies are still there and about to do the Macarena but I’m feeling pretty good about my instructor’s expertise.

iFLY Instructor in Action
iFLY instructor in action

Rosie explains that the iFLY in Brisbane has the latest GEN-8 vertical wind tunnel comprising four fans with 1800 horsepower generating the wind speed needed to lift up to four people at a time.

I’ve also done iFLY-ing down the Gold Coast which was loads of fun. However, the tunnel at iFLY Brisbane is a step above the Gold Coast one. It’s one of the largest in Australia and a pro flyer favourite.

Now it’s time to get me suited up but first up is the iFLY paperwork. As with most adventure activities you will need to sign the electronic waiver where you acknowledge there are some risks.

However, it’s a lot less risky than jumping out of an aeroplane and hoping your parachute opens. It’s a lot more comfortable and a lot less scary too.

The most important things to declare are health issues which could increase the risk of heart attack and any neck or shoulder problems.

Weight is also important as the tunnel technician needs to work within a certain weight range for wind speeds so you have the best possible flight.

In command at iFLY Brisbane
In command at iFLY Brisbane

For this reason, you will be weighed by a staff member after you’ve filled out your form. This figure is used to set the correct wind speed for your flight.

The regular weight range goes up to 136kg. However, don’t worry if you’re over 136kg. You can pay an additional $30 to be flown by a specialist instructor.

The additional cost covers the extra power needed to lift your “Yo mama, I’m a-comin” booty off the bottom of the wind tunnel.

I was so happy when I saw the black flight suits at iFLY Brisbane. When we did iFLY down the Gold Coast, I wore an orange flight suit which made me look like a Teletubbie that could fly.

Going high at iFLY Brisbane
Going high at iFLY Brisbane

You also have to take off all jewellery, watches and the like, so these don’t become projectiles in the tunnel. If you have rings that won’t come off, you will be given gloves to wear.

At the start of the flight experience, I was shown a briefing video about what to expect during the flight in the tunnel, including the hand signals used by instructors due to tunnel noise.

You can’t hear or speak although I am told you can scream if you like. Just be warned your cheeks will flap in the photos if you open your mouth which could blow your cool image.

Adjusting flight with small hand movements
Adjusting flight with small hand movements

After you’ve watched the video, you are equipped with a helmet, earplugs, and goggles and invited to make your way out to the tunnel where the instructor and wind tunnel operator are waiting.

Jarrad, our instructor, greets everyone with a big smile and high fives, and we line up in the outer tube on a bench and get ready to fly.

Each flight is one person at a time, starting with teaching essential stability before the instructor lets you fly more independently on the second flight if you’re ready to try this.

Getting a helping hand to stabilize
Getting a helping hand to stabilize

My butterflies are good to go when I lean into the tunnel as per the instruction video. This is really easy as the wind simply takes hold of you and lifts you up (but not too high as the wind tunnel operator is in control).

The instructor uses the handles on the side of the flight suit to steady you so even if you forget a few things you saw in the instruction video, you still get to enjoy a safe and fun flight.

Each flight lasts about 60 seconds. Why not longer? Basically, iFLY is designed around the freefall time of a skydive from 14,000 feet.

It’s also to do with the cost of operating the power-hungry beast of a fan generating 1800 horsepower to lift people as if they’re light as a feather.

I Flew at iFLY Brisbane
I flew at iFLY Brisbane

So, do you get bang for your buck for a 60-second ride? In short, yes, you do! This is a great experience that is worth every cent.

I’ve also skydived for real on a tandem skydive and think iFLY is an excellent introduction to what an actual skydive is like.

You can go skydiving at iFLY Brisbane without the sheer terror of falling out of an aeroplane. You also skip the discomfort of getting a massive ‘wedgie’ when the chute opens which is a major bonus.

Disclosure: The writer flew as a guest of iFLY Brisbane and loves the fact he looks cool in these photos, and not like a flying orange Teletubbie.

If you would like to know more about Brisbane, check out these great things to do along the Brisbane River, discover where to find Brisbane’s best coffee, or find out all the ways you can get around Brisbane for free.We also have an Ultimate Guide to Brisbane.

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Trevor Templeman is a photographer and writer who travels the world capturing the essence of locations through their landscape, architecture and people. His words and photographs are published in magazines, newspapers and online around the world.