Long before the movie Bucket List hit the screen and got everybody thinking about what they would want to do before they died, I had been living my personal bucket list.
My list began with a goal I had set as a school kid to travel throughout the South Pacific on my own for one year after graduating from college. I squirreled away gift money, saved up my bartending and waitressing tips, and embarked on that adventure on August 28, 1984, following the L.A. Olympics. (The Olympics also took place in my home city of Long Beach, so I went to watch volleyball and hang out at the yachting village with my friends from the Australian sailing team.)
That trip down under would have been THE trip of a lifetime for most people; however, it lit a fire in me that has been burning for travel ever since. My priority in life has been about acquiring experiences rather than things, so I opted for a less expensive gold band rather than a diamond ring when my fiancé wanted me to pick out my own wedding ring. “Let’s travel instead!” I suggested to Bruce about how to spend that money, and we have been traveling together ever since.
It wasn’t until last year that we finally got around to watching the 2008 movie, Bucket List. It sparked a conversation that I am guessing many people had after they watched the movie. “What’s on your bucket list?” we asked each other.
Having been regular goal-setters and travel planners, we knew where each other wanted to travel. As a matter of fact, we already had our 2020 and 2021 trips booked! What we hadn’t discussed, however, was what other types of experiences we wanted to have before we died.
I can’t even remember when or where I first heard about indoor skydiving, but when I learned about iFly (www.iflyworld.com), I had immediately added that to my mental bucket list. So, when Bruce asked me what (besides travel!) I would put on my bucket list, “Indoor skydiving!” was my reply. I explained that it was skydiving without all the risks: No small planes, no fear of a parachute malfunction, and no broken bones on a potentially rough landing. Besides, I hate that feeling of my stomach coming up through my throat! I could handle brief periods of that when I used to kayak surf, but that’s about it. I also have Meniere’s, an inner ear disorder, so how would my ears respond to jumping out of a plane? The thought of it makes me dizzy.
After writing up our bucket lists, I learned that iFly has a location in Atlanta, very close to Costco. Perfect! Even more perfect was when Costco started selling iFly gift certificates last Fall. Bruce snatched one up, and that is how I spent my birthday.
As iFly describes the experience, “When you go skydiving, you jump and then fall several thousand feet. At iFly, you don’t jump or fall, you fly gently on a cushion of controlled air.” I couldn’t wait to experience that feeling.
Before getting suited up, our group was given instruction by our flight instructor, Austin, on how to enter the wind tunnel, hold our “flying” position, and exit the tunnel. We were also shown a set of hand signals that he would be using, so we could make adjustments to our body position. One finger held up meant, “Lift your chin up.” Two straight fingers meant, “Keep your legs straight.” If he bent those fingers, he wanted us to bend our legs. If he flashed us the “ok” sign, that meant to hold our position.
Our group, which included a group of cute little girls celebrating a 10th birthday, a family, and me, got suited up in a flight suit, head sock, and helmet. We entered the tunnel and lined up on a bench to wait our turn. I purposely positioned myself last, so I could watch the other flyers and learn the ideal body position. As a result, I learned from everybody’s mistakes and nailed my position fast. (You only get one minute in the tunnel for each of your two flights, so there was no time to waste!)
This was the perfect body position, because Austin flashed me an “Ok!”
For the first flight, Austin kept us low in the tunnel and hung on to us while he stood up. The second flight was the “High Flight,” where he took us up high, and then low, and then back up high again throughout the one-minute flight. This is what you will see in the video that was included in my package. (Doing a high flight rather than a low one for your second flight costs an additional $14; however, it was well worth the added expense.)
How was the experience? IT WAS A BLAST! The first flight was exhilarating and a lot of fun, as you can see by the grin on my face; but I let out a loud, “Woo HOO!” and a non-stop giggle throughout the high flight. Austin couldn’t hear me because of the wind noise and ear plugs we were wearing, but he said he could feel the vibration from my laugh when he was holding onto me!
Would I do it again? Absolutely! Bruce convinced me to go ahead and take advantage of the $139 offer they made to return for ten more flights, which sure beats the $219.95 it would cost to book the same thing online. No, iFly is not necessarily inexpensive, but it sure beats the high cost of skydiving, and it’s a heck of a lot safer!