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Indoor skydiving center opens in Long Island City

Photo by QueensPost

March 15, 2024 By Czarinna Andres and QNS Staff

A new indoor skydiving center has opened its doors in Long Island City, allowing beginners, adrenaline junkies, and seasoned divers the opportunity to experience freefalling through the air without the need for an aircraft or a parachute. 

iFLY Indoor Skydiving, which operates more than 80 locations around the world including on several cruise ships, opened at 10-20 Borden Ave. at the beginning of the year and will host a grand opening in the near future.

The LIC location is the company’s first in New York City, although it does operate locations in Westchester and Paramus, New Jersey. 

Justin LaWarre, General Manager of iFLY in LIC, said business has been booming in the new center in recent weeks, stating that the soft opening has been “crazy” despite no marketing efforts. 

“The community has really accepted us,” LaWarre said. “We’re just incredibly thankful. It’s been so busy.” 

LaWarre said iFLY caters to a wide range of groups, from birthday parties to bachelorette parties and corporate events, and from veteran skydivers to absolute novices. 

The center’s 14-foot-diameter wind tunnel has a range of different speeds, allowing for guided sessions for beginners and genuine skydiving conditions for more experienced customers. 

Photo by QueensPost

The vertical tunnel buffets air upwards to create a cushion of air that supports a person’s body weight effortlessly and can be adjusted to provide different wind speeds. 

Anyone under 300 pounds and aged between three and 103 can try out the wind tunnel, with iFLY flight instructors on-hand throughout the experience for guidance and assistance. 

Customers can buy two one-minute flights for $105, with each flight the equivalent of three jumps from an aircraft flying at 12,000 feet. iFLY also offers a 10-flight friends and family package for $500, which can be used by up to five people. 

Flight suit rentals, pre-flight demos, and a flight certificate are included in the cost of each package.

Photo by QueensPost

Customers will be able to try a range of maneuvers during the flights, including turning left and right, moving backwards and forwards, and moving up and down. 

Flight instructors can also take divers on a “High Flight,” a thrilling experience that sees them soar 20 feet into the air for an additional surge of adrenaline. 

Returning customers can avail of heavily discounted rates, while customers can also book in blocks of up to 30 minutes for cheaper bulk rates.  

LaWarre said the center can cater to groups of 13 flyers at any one time, with group sessions lasting up to 75 minutes.

Staff at the new location are all experienced skydivers and say that the experience closely resembles a genuine skydive, except for the fact that customers are not faced with the daunting prospect of jumping out of a moving aircraft thousands of feet above the ground. 

LaWarre added that every instructor at the center is genuinely interested in helping customers improve at skydiving, regardless of whether they are beginners of returning veterans. 

“They want to see you succeed,” LaWarre said. “So, they’re with you every step of the way, even inside of one chamber.  It’s one on one then. 

“From the moment you fly for the first time, you’re a part of the skydiving community.” 

He said the skydiving community is generally incredibly welcoming and supportive, which is evident at the LIC location. 

Photo by QueensPost

Instructors offer words of encouragement or praise after each flight, offering fist-bumps and high-fives to every customer that takes on the wind tunnel. 

In a demonstration on Thursday, one instructor patiently helped ease the fears of a visibly nervous child as he attempted skydiving for the first time, guiding him through his first session. 

LaWarre said he is in contact with a number of local “drop zones” about providing training to help skydivers obtain their license, while he is also in contact with a number of local schools and colleges about iFLY’s STEM programs, which offers students of all ages an opportunity to work with aerospace engineers to learn about physics and aerodynamics. 

For example, iFLY works with middle school students to build parachutes of different dimensions, which are then tested at different speeds in the wind tunnel. 

The company also works with AP Physics students on more complex issues, while it also hosts basic physics lessons for elementary school students. 

iFLY also works with West Point graduates on issues such as formation skydiving, La Warre said. 

The LIC location employs a staff of 20 people, including flight instructors and front-of-house staff, while it is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., except on Mondays when it opens from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

The company strongly encourages booking in advance to avoid disappointment. 

Photo by QueensPost

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