OCEANSIDE — iFLY Indoor Skydiving opened for family fun Aug. 24.
First to try out the facility were friends and family of the owner and VIP guests including city firefighters and pageant princesses.
“Everybody truly enjoys it,” Christy Loiacono, iFLY director of sales, said. “It’s an exciting, high-energy sport.”
A mix of 3- to 80-year-olds were the first group to experience the sensation of flying inside the facility’s massive vertical wind tunnel.
Participants suited up in a one-piece jumpsuit, earplugs and helmet. One at a time they entered the flight chamber.
First they were individually guided by an instructor to acclimate to laying belly-down and being suspended by forced air. Then they joined hands with the instructor and propelled together to the top of the chamber, which exceeds 40 feet.
Observing human flight was sensational. Experiencing it was described as magical.
Jose Trimino, 80, of Arizona, is a regular at the iFLY facility in his home state. He said his first experience flying was initially a little shaky, but “once you got in everything was cool.”
Trimino added that indoor skydiving is a sport where age does not matter. He said his experience that day was wonderful.
“I’d do it again, and again, and again,” Trimino said.
Chris Leavitt, also from Arizona, tried indoor skydiving with his wife and two small children.
“It’s like flying,” Leavitt said. “It’s a really cool feeling.”
His 3-year-old son, Canaan, seemed equally impressed.
The grand opening celebration included a ribbon cutting ceremony, food trucks, a deejay and a first-time flyer discount.
“There’s a lot happening,” Loiacono said.
The 5,000-square-foot facility was custom-built within a year. Giant propellers push air through the center of the flight chamber and keep people afloat.
It is one of a couple dozen iFLY facilities in the world.
IFLY Oceanside is geared toward family fun, student field trips and corporate team building. Owner Rob Blomsness said he is also expecting high participation from area skydivers and military.
Blomsness added he is pleased with the opening day turnout and the city’s warm reception.
“I’m over the top excited,” Blomsness said. “There is a lot of community interest.”
Visit Oceanside and Oceanside Chamber of Commerce have voiced strong support for the facility. Visit Oceanside president and CEO Leslee Gaul said it is exactly what the city needs to fit its sports tourism market.
The business is expected to generate $5 million annually.
“It’s a great addition to Oceanside,” Councilman Jerry Kern said.
iFLY Indoor Skydiving is located at 3178 Vista Way, just off state Route 78.