Saturday, 5 August 2017

Indoor Skydiving with iFLY Milton Keynes - A Review

Last week we enjoyed a few peaceful and relaxing days in the Lake District which were really lovely, but this week we decided to step it up a gear and enjoy some thrilling and adventurous activities in Milton Keynes. We combined this with a camping trip at the Gulliver's Camping and Caravan Site near Willen Lake and had a great few days trying out some fun new experiences.

Our first stop was the fabulous iFLY which is an indoor skydiving centre that recreates the simulation of true free-fall conditions within a vertical wind tunnel. There are currently three iFLY locations in the UK which are Milton Keynes, Manchester and Basingstoke and each location welcomes flyers of all abilities and offers highly trained instructors.

My husband has always wanted to try a parachute jump and so this was a great chance for him to experience what free-fall would be like without the need to pay a small fortune and jump out of a plane. My daughter Emma is also very adventurous so this was right up her street and she had been counting down the days to her experience. If you are a regular reader of the blog you will also know that my son Ben has a fear of heights and so this was something that was way out of his comfort zone, but he was willing to give it a go and I was very proud of the fact that he was happy to try it out.

Shortly after booking our experience a few weeks ago, we received a confirmation email that provided our ticket along with lots of useful information relevant to our visit. You need to print your ticket off and bring the hard copy with you when booking in on the day, so make sure you don't forget this! There is also a section that explains about completing your 'Statement of Risk' which all flyers need to complete before participating. It is recommended that you do this prior to your visit in order to help speed up the check in process on the day and it only takes a few moments to do this online. Another important factor to make note of is your report time which will be approximately an hour before your actual flight time. 

We visited the Milton Keynes site which is located within the Xscape building. It was really easy to find and well signposted from the main road. There was plenty of parking (pay and display) and it was a short walk once entering the building to the iFLY facility. Before we entered we watched a couple of videos that were on display in the window and also on the self check in tablets opposite the entrance, just to reassure Ben a little bit more about what the experience would involve.

We approached reception and were immediately made to feel welcome by the staff. It was apparent from the beginning that the staff all possess a friendly and professional attitude and the gentleman who checked us in explained the procedure to us, went over our statement of risks and told us where the viewing chamber was if we wanted to view any flights whilst waiting. He told us who our instructor was going to be and where to meet him, then once we had finished checking in we were told that we had around twenty minutes to grab a drink or have a look around before the session began.

We returned just before 4pm and were met by our instructor Darren. He invited all the flyers in the 4pm group into the safety briefing room and also invited family members to come in too if we wanted to. As Riley can get a little noisy and bored in classroom environments, I took the opportunity to take him to the loo and then have a good look around the iFLY facility whilst Mr F, Emma and Ben took part in the briefing, so as not to disturb them or anybody else.

Afterwards, Emma excitedly told me that they had watched a short DVD which went through the process of the experience, the hand signals to use, the entry and exit procedure and what to do if you needed to end the flight for a particular reason. There was then a visual demonstration on the correct flying position which Mr F volunteered to help demonstrate. Once the safety briefing was completed the group then made there way to the Gear Up counter to get kitted out in their clothing which consisted of a flying suit, goggles, safety helmet and ear plugs. Everyone excitedly put their fly suits on which just fitted neatly over the top of your ordinary clothes and once the instructor was satisfied that everyone had their helmets and goggles on correctly, the group made their way up to the flight chamber.

The Milton Keynes iFLY flight chamber features a 12ft diameter design and has wind speeds reaching up to 165mph.  The group who were flying entered an air locked chamber whilst spectators could sit on the opposite side on benches placed around the wind tunnel so that you had a good view of everything that was happening. The instructor Darren then went over a few final things and checked that everyone remembered the hand signals and then a second instructor joined us who sat in the booth that controlled the wind speed. Ben had become quite nervous by this point so he sat the opposite end of the entry door to the chamber so that he could go last after he had watched all of the other participants. 

Each member of the group had 2 x 1 minute flights to enjoy and whilst this may sound like a short amount of time, my husband said it definitely doesn't feel it. This flying time is also equivalent to 3 x 12,000 ft skydives. My family patiently waited whilst everyone else took their turn, it then got to Emma's go and she was so excited. I think she was a little shocked initially by the wind speed but soon got the hang of it and managed to manoeuvre herself into the correct body position with the help of the instructor. She absolutely loved flying around the chamber and seemed to pick it up really quickly.

When it came to Mr F's go, he found it a little harder than he expected. The videos make it look so easy so I think he had thought that he was going to enter the chamber and soar like an eagle which definitely wasn't the case. It was really funny watching him try to get the right position and the instructor was fantastic trying to help him. He really enjoyed it and found his first flight a little hard but quite hilarious.

Last but not least was Ben who did absolutely fantastic despite his nerves. He had paid attention to everything that the instructor had told him and got into a great flight position with ease. He managed to go slightly higher than some of the other participants and flew really well. He made the slight mistake though of looking down as he exited the chamber and as you can see right down the chamber through the net it brought his fear of heights to the surface again. He had an amazing time during his flight and did really enjoy it, but he ultimately decided that one go was enough for him and decided not to participate in the second flight. Darren the instructor was absolutely brilliant with him and gave him lots of encouragement to try and persuade him, but he totally respected his decision and didn't push him to do anything he didn't want to. As a parent I really appreciated this approach and I was so proud of the fact that he had done the first flight.

Each member of the group then enjoyed a second flight and due to our instructor being very experienced, he was also able to offer participants the added extra of the Hi-Fly experience which is where you get to go higher in the chamber and spin around with the help of the instructor. This does carry an additional cost of £6 which I think is very reasonable. This added extra isn't offered at the time of booking as it is dependent on the experience and qualifications of the instructor you have which can of course vary depending on the day or time of your visit. It is optional so there is no obligation to do it if you don't want to, but should you choose to then you just pay the £6 at the reception desk once the experience has finished.

Emma didn't need to think twice about going up, she was that excited she actually ran into the chamber and leaped into a superman pose. I think the instructor could see that she was very comfortable flying and had no fear so he spun her round really high into the chamber and Emma absolutely loved it!

Mr F opted not to go higher on his second flight and instead chose to spend more time flying low and mastering the correct position to fly in. He did much better on his second attempt and managed to fly around the chamber a lot more comfortably, even managing a smile and a wave for Riley.

Once all the flights had been completed it was time for a special treat as Darren the instructor entered the flight chamber on his own and put on a great display of what is actually possible with a lot of practice and experience. My children were fascinated at the speed he could travel as well as all the tricks and spins he could do. Riley even asked me if he was the real Spiderman!

After this, we all returned back to the main reception area where all the clothing and equipment was returned to the Gear Up counter. We initially thought that the experience would end here, however it was a nice surprise to find that the instructor actually sat all the participants down and provided feedback to each member of the group. I thought that this was a great idea and would actually encourage visitors to come back again and improve. It also gave Emma and Ben a big confidence boost when they were both told how well they did in the flight chamber. Each participant was then also given a certificate which highlighted the areas they had covered and also gave you a bit of an insight into what more you could do if you returned again to try and progress. Emma has already requested that she has another flight during the summer holidays and would also like an iFLY birthday party!

Overall we had an absolutely fantastic experience both as participants and spectators. The facility is fantastic and the instructors and staff are a credit to the company. We were made to feel welcome from the moment we arrived and every staff member we came across were very polite and courteous and able to answer any questions that we had. The attraction was very clean and well organised and despite being busy it didn't feel crowded at any point during our time there. The iFLY experience is brilliant and once I have recovered from my knee injury, both Riley and I have also decided to give it a go too so we will definitely be booking another family experience in the near future.

Important information:

iFLY has three UK centres which are:

Milton Keynes - iFLY Indoor Skydiving, Xscape, 602 Marlborough Gate, Milton Keynes, MK9 3XS

Manchester - iFLY Indoor Skydiving, Trafford Quays Leisure Village, 9 Trafford Way, Stretford, Manchester, M41 7JA.

Basingstoke - iFLY Indoor Skydiving, Basingstoke Leisure Park, Euskirchen Way, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG22 6PG.

Customer Services Telephone Number: 0845 331 6549

Prices - Experiences start from as low as £29.99 which really is great value for money. The total cost will vary dependent on whether you visit during peak or off peak times, how many flights you would like to do and how many people you are purchasing for, but there are some great packages and offers available online which can be found on the website here: Packages and Prices

Opening times: Opening times vary between locations so I would always recommend checking the companies own website before visiting to obtain the most up to date information.


Social Media: You can follow iFLY on social media to obtain up to date information, view some images and watch videos. These can be found on the following channels -

Twitter - @iFLY_UK

Facebook - iFLYIndoorSkydivingUK

Instagram - @iflyuk

YouTube - iFLYWorldUK

Disclaimer: We were provided with this experience on a complimentary basis for the purpose of providing an honest review of our experience. Opinions are my own unless otherwise stated. Some photographs were taken by myself, others were taken by iFLY and are therefore not to be replicated or used elsewhere. The photographs provided by iFLY have been retouched slightly by myself in order to respect and protect the privacy of other guests who were in attendance.

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