The Flying Sportsman

John Yeong


I have to be honest. I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first Magicbox. I had heard of them, but I hadn’t really explored their website before. When I got my Magicbox gift, I jumped on my phone browser and began to explore. I used the filters to cut down the options a bit and quite a few jumped out at me. In the end, I settled for the iFly sky diving experience because it looked so refreshing. I had done 5 episodes in a 7-episode series on activities in Sentosa, but had never managed to get to the iFly, so now I had a full complement!

Prepare for lift off with the instructors

So, when I first arrived at iFly Singapore in Sentosa, I went to the registration counter and I presented them with my Magicbox. I didn't actually plan ahead; I had a day off and I called up and they said that I could show up. The instructors quickly took me in hand. We had a group briefing, which they made very simple and fun. It made it less daunting. I actually really liked the instructors. Our particular instructor was very clear and was able to break it down step-by-step for beginners. It made the whole experience a lot more fun because you knew you were in good hands.

After that we went upstairs and we were suited up. We had to put ear plugs in to protect our ears. I was very envious of the instructors’ black suits, they looked like sky ninjas and it made me want to get good like them because they looked so good.

One of my fellow participants was quite scared. I was pretty calm, I did think about whether or not I was scared, but I was there and I like to try new things. It was anticipation more than anything else, I think. I might have felt something more intense if I was jumping from a height with a parachute. I was curious enough to give it a go and it was fun. Really fun.

The first to jump from high up with a parachute were the Chinese in the 1100s!

The first daredevils to jump from a height with a parachute were the Chinese, who as far back as the 1100s were jumping of cliffs with a proto-parachute. Base jumping essentially. Then Leonardo Da Vinci designed the first true parachute in 1483, it was built and used successfully in 2000. In 1797, adrenaline junky Andre Jacques-Garnerin would jump with a parachute from beneath a hot air balloon.

Leslie Irvin is credited with the first free fall in 1919. By the 1930s, skydiving had become a competitive sport. It was then adopted by the military to drop paratroopers behind enemy lines during World War II. It was only in the 20th Century that skydiving became more mainstream.

The first human to fly in a vertical wind tunnel came a bit later, in 1964, when Jack Tiffany flew in a wind tunnel at Wright-Patterson Airbase in Ohio, USA. The first wind tunnel for exclusively commercial use was opened in 1982 in Las Vegas. As an indoor themed wind tunnel, iFly Singapore in Sentosa is the first-of-its-kind. It is also one of the biggest wind tunnels in the world.

It seems that there has always been something arresting and exhilarating for people about the feeling of falling from a height.

My flight in the wind tunnel

Back to my wind tunnel. I couldn’t even step into it at first without being blown away! As I finally managed to step in, I shot up. My mouth was blown open and I was spinning. It felt like laying on my stomach on a table when it was working. However, I immediately forgot half of the briefing once I was in the wind tunnel and flying! I did remember the shape I was supposed to make, with my knees and arms slightly bent. Luckily, the instructors had taught us the meaning of some hand signals, so they were able to save the day! They were also very well trained, they knew where to stand and where to hold me, it was reassuring. I was spinning a lot so the view and the instructor’s face (he was in the wind tunnel with me) kept coming into and out of my field of vision. I would drift about towards the glass walls and have to gently push myself away with my hands. There were no hard knocks against the walls though. If your posture is right then you stay in the middle, but of course there is a learning curve.

I really loved it actually. I went in for another go. The instructors could also do all these neat tricks. I could see myself going back over and over to learn how to do tumbles and air acrobatics. It would be very fun to do with a group of friends and all go together. They have a gallery that lets you see your friends do it, so it’s actually a great communal activity.

One word to the wise… you can’t close your mouth as it’s blown open. That means that your spit whizzes about with you! It’s pretty funny.

iFly a sports perspective

I do more explosive sports generally, so I’m used to keeping a bit of tension in my body. So instead of hovering in the middle, I was drifting towards the glass walls a lot. My posture was not quite right at the beginning. You have to be completely relaxed but in shape, similar to how you would in a yoga pose.

It could be fun to do as a way to relax if you like explosive sports such as track and field, rugby, football etc, because you have to relax yourself completely. It still has the adrenaline explosive sports enthusiasts like though. It would also give yogis an adrenaline boost while using their ability to relax their muscles. For both groups it requires you to use your body in an unfamiliar way, but encompasses something familiar.

There were a couple of more senior flyers and people who were sporty and not sporty, it was for everyone really (except pregnant ladies). You don’t need a strong foundation of fitness to try it.

The best part and the biggest challenge

The best part was the flight. And the biggest challenge was… the flight!

I really enjoyed being guided through the flight by the instructors, it was a real pleasure to experience. I wish the flight was longer!

The most challenging part of the flight was that I reacted to it like a sportsman. I kept tension in my muscles when I needed to completely relax. Going against all my training took real effort and my body resisted it at first.

I really enjoyed the whole experience.