We say it all the time, but we do truly believe it: Austin is an amazing place to raise a family. With this in mind, we’re on a mission to go discover all the things which make our town special. To help get out more without getting overwhelmed, we came up with the Austin Bucket List project. Each year, we pick 10 things we’d like to do in Austin — with or without our kids. That sounds doable, doesn’t it? Then, we document our adventures here, with the idea of getting each of you inspired to do the same.
I am not a fan of heights. My heart races when I get on the ladder to put up the Christmas lights on our roof. I wouldn’t even call myself a thrill seeker.
During last year’s Bucket List project, I decided I had seen enough deals on ziplining that I would pull the trigger and go for it. Although the anticipation was a little harrowing, I overcame my fears and actually had a great time. I even went on to zipline in Costa Rica over the summer, this time with my family. In my article about ziplining, I declared that I had no interest in skydiving. That seemed like an entirely different proposition.
Yet, there was this small part of me which was curious. I regularly drive by iFly, which is relatively new in town and offers indoor skydiving. While the idea of driving some distance out of town and spending the whole day jumping out of an actual plane was not really my cup of tea, I could manage the 10-minute drive to iFly and then reward myself with a treat afterwards at Baked by Amy’s (which is conveniently located next door). Sharing the experience with my 8-year-old son was also appealing. But I wasn’t sure he was up for it. This is the kid who, just a few years ago, gasped as he got off the Shamu Express (the most tame ride) at Sea World, declaring, “Mom, that is NOT a kiddie ride!”
When I received the invitation from the lovely ladies over at Do512Family to join them at iFly, I assumed we would pass. No way would my cautious child want to do something like that, I told myself. This is the child who wears noise-canceling headphones when I vacuum, and I was told that the noise in the flight chamber was significant.
I was shocked when I asked him if he’d like to go to iFly and he said yes, not hesitating. He had actually been invited to a birthday party at iFly when it first opened, but he couldn’t make it, so he had heard his friends talk about it. Maybe he knew there would be the obligatory post-iFly baked treat? Either way, I decided that if my 8-year-old could do it, I should give it a try.
We arrived at iFly and went up the stairs to level where you enter the flight chamber. We had completed a waiver online beforehand, so we went right into the “training session”. We learned in the video that the tunnel is so loud that you have to rely on hand signals to communicate with your guide, who is nearby throughout your “jump”. Our guide led us to put on our suits. Participants with long hair were encouraged to braid it to avoid lots of tangles afterwards. Rings and jewelry had to be removed (lockers are available), and gloves are available if you can’t remove your wedding rings (which is why I sported the Michael Jackson one-gloved look). You are given disposable earplugs to counteract the sound of the fans in the flight chamber.. I could feel my blood pressure rise as I realized we were pretty much ready to go.
I was relieved when my son was chosen to go second instead of first, so I had a few minutes to mentally prepare to enter the chamber. Afterwards, I was glad that I didn’t have to wait and watch the dozen or so people in our group jump, as my heart might have catapulted out of my jumpsuit. My son entered the flight chamber fearlessly, although as his mama I could see that he was nervous. By the end of his minute-long jump, though, he was grinning ear to ear.
Just like that, it was my turn. The training session can’t quite prepare you for what it feels like to be suspended in a wind tunnel, and I found myself concentrating more on all the things I was supposed to remember (hands forward, Superman style, with your elbows bent, chin up, legs slightly bent). The minute seemed to go quickly and slowly, at the same time. I experienced a very similar sensation as with ziplining: that familiar mix of fear, the surge of adrenaline and the relief that it really wasn’t as scary as you think it will be. It was certainly a hair-raising (literally — the strands which made their way out of my helmet), exhilarating experience.
As I caught my breath and awaited my next turn, I watched each person shed that hesitation and fear and exit the tunnel, all smiles and giving us all high fives. There was only one unhappy camper, who was a little fellow who looked as though he was a little scared to go without his mama. You can fly as young as 3, although my guess is that it might take a courageous 3-year-old to try.
On our second turn, an additional instructor was in the chamber and everyone had the opportunity to do some aerial acrobatics with him. My son opted not to, although I think he regretted that decision later. I wasn’t really that interested in dazzling people with my skills, but the message didn’t make it to the second instructor, so up I went. I was actually surprised — I enjoyed the experience of being with the instructor almost more than the first jump. It seemed as though my form didn’t matter as much and I was basically being guided the entire time. Instead of concentrating on all that I was supposed to do, I was able to enjoy the second jump much more than the first.
Although each jump is only one minute, in between the training, suiting up, waiting for your turn and watching the others, the experience was 2 hours (which, of course, compared to a more conventional skydiving experience, I imagine to be very quick). We all received certificates and had the opportunity to look at our photos and videos. You could also sign up for additional classes to learn skills.
I’m glad we checked out iFly, and my son would say the same. I was surprised that when I asked my son about the noise, he didn’t even notice it. In this line of work, I’ve thought and read a lot about raising kids, and am convinced that giving children opportunities to take risks in a safe environment is a good thing. It would be great to do iFly on a day that’s too cold or hot to be outside, and even if it’s nice out, it’s convenient to have Phil’s is in the same shopping center, as you could easily combine the experience with lunch and playtime.
I’d say this experience sets the bar pretty high for my Bucket List for 2015, but it’s a great way to kick things off!
This is a great introduction to indoor skydiving. Our most basic, beginner-level package that gives you everything you need to have a great first time out.
- 2 flights for 1 person
- Comprehensive training session
- Rental of flight suit, helmet and goggles
- Hands-on personal assistance from a flight instructor throughout your flights
- Personalized flight certificate
Earn your Wings is a $59.95 value.
What do you have to do to win?
Leave a comment or fill out the form below. All entries must be received by 9 a.m. CST on Friday, January 30, 2015. One entry per household. Must be at least 18 years old to qualify (although the certificate can be redeemed for anyone in your family, from 3 to 103). The winner will be notified by email and given 24 hours to respond. If no response is received within the 24 hours, a new winner will be chosen. The prize is non-transferable and there is no cash value. By leaving a comment or filling out the form below, you agree to the terms and conditions stated above. Thanks to everyone who entered. Congrats to Joyce, our winner!
Disclosure: My son and I were provided with complimentary flights by iFly Austin. All opinions expressed herein are my own.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.livemom.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Nicole-Basham-Sara-Marzani-Photography-livemom.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 8-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau’s words, her mission is to “suck out all the marrow of life”, or in her son’s words, to cultivate in him a love of “advenchers”.[/author_info] [/author]