The world’s largest indoor skydiving simulator at Sentosa lifts off.
Contributed by Tan Kok Siang
Sentosa added a new crowd-puller to its stable of attractions on May 18 with the opening of iFly Singapore, the world’s largest indoor skydiving wind tunnel. The opening was graced by former Minister
of Foreign Affairs, Mr. George Yeo.
Designed by SkyVenture, a US-based wind tunnel manufacturer which has designed more than 20 wind tunnels worldwide with proven safety records to boot, the state-of-the-art, S$25 million wind tunnel affords the thrills and spills of skydiving to those as young as seven years old to centenarians.
The founder of iFly, Lawrence Koh, was previously the Officer Commanding of the SAF parachuting school, and has clocked over 1,000 skydives in three years. The opening saw live demonstrations from the instructors, who performed wall-crawling and break-dancing stunts in a seemingly effortless manner. Yeo himself gave a live demonstration, but not after taking care of the elephant in the room—he joked that if the opening had happened last year as originally planned, he would have used his skydiving pictures to campaign for the elections. “But since that was not to be, hence the outcome of the elections,” he jested.
The wind tunnel is powered by wall-to-wall airflow produced by four turbofans which aims to ensure that flyers never experience turbulence or fall out of the airflow—in any case, the stainless steel elastic net at the base of the wind tunnel is strong enough to hold two adult elephants. The fans can produce airspeeds of up to 300 kmh, faster than the average speed of an F1 car.
The opening of iFly Singapore also means that flying enthusiasts will not have to travel to Genting Highlands in Malaysia to get their adrenaline fix anymore. However, be prepared to fork out S$89 for two sessions of 45 seconds each.
Introductory rates (good till July 31) for beginner flight packages, which includes training and two flight experiences, start from S$65 (S$55 for children).
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Having experienced the real thing, I was looking forward to how iFly would deliver. We were first ushered into a darkened check-in area to watch a short video on the do’s and don’ts as well as the facts and figures of skydiving.
In the next room, an instructor took us through a dry run of how to position ourselves in the wind tunnel. Lying on what looks like a modified dentist’s chair, he guided us through a rather uncomfortable
and most unnatural-looking frog stance, which, when airborne, is the optimum position to catch wind.
The neck should be arched, with the chin turned upward instead of downward to prevent tumbling. We were also taught some basic sign language for bending one’s knees and straightening one’s legs, important actions which will factor greatly in one’s aerodynamism.
Once suited up, we were brought into a little enclosure just outside the Perspex wall of the wind tunnel. Each one took turns to have a go, with the instructor having a firm grip on the flyer at all times, if not, within half an arm’s length—in order to make on-the-spot adjustment to the flyer’s floating position.
A good tip is to relax and ride on the cushion of air, instead of trying to resist the wind-blast. Ironically, relaxation is the key to enjoying this high adrenalin sport. If not, you’re likely to feel like a rag doll being jerked around in the jaws of a rabid Jack Russell.
Simulated or not, it got my adrenalin pumping for sure.
Tan Kok Siang was a military parachutist with the Singapore Armed Forces. He has 50 jumps out of planes and helicopters under his belt. He is currently working as an Allied Educator in a secondary school.