BRANDON — Local adventurers will soon be able to "skydive" without having to jump off an airplane, instead floating on a cushion of air generated by giant fans at an indoor skydiving center planned for Brandon.
The IFLY chain will open next to the Top Golf attraction on Palm River Road near the intersection of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway and Interstate 75. The venture will be another big get for the Brandon area, which has enjoyed a number of big openings in the past few years, including Top Golf and a Bass Pro Shop.
Officials at the Austin-based company have not responded to repeated requests from the Tampa Bay Times for information on the Brandon site, but the website Indoor Skydiving Source reported that the local IFLY will open in November. The project is also detailed on the website of ARCO/Murray Construction Co., the company that also built the Top Golf facility and is working on the Tampa General Hospital healthplex nearby. The construction company also confirmed the November opening.
IFLY facilities feature a vertical wind tunnel powered by giant fans that can generate up to 175 mph winds, with the force adjusted for participants' body weight.
"For me, it's just a complete feeling of freedom — and I have the reference of skydiving," said Vince Arnone, who runs Indoor Skydiving Source from Chicago. "There's a leap of faith you have with skydiving, when you jump out that airplane door, and you don't have that with (indoor) skydiving."
Participants have a training session in an on-site classroom, then are provided a jumpsuit, helmet, goggles and earplugs. An instructor accompanies rookies, but additional runs can be accomplished solo or with friends.
Prices start at $59.95 at IFLY's Orlando facility for two flights of several minutes each. That's the freefall equivalent of three skydives from 12,000 feet, according to the IFLY website.
Participants eventually can perform advanced gymnastic maneuvers and even compete. The second World Cup of Indoor Skydiving takes place in October in Warsaw. Arnone said some participants choreograph moves to music.
The sites also host parties and corporate team-building events.
IFLY has 50 facilities worldwide and has entertained more than 7 million fliers. It was founded in 1998 in Orlando when the technology was developed to create a stable, wall-to-wall cushion of air in a flight chamber.
"You go from standing to leaning in and then lying down on this wind that's supporting you, and you have this complete freedom of movement," said Arnone. "The cool thing is that it's so accessible, and it's so safe."
Contact Jerome R. Stockfisch at firstname.lastname@example.org.