iFly

Have you ever dreamed of flying? Soaring in the sky? Perhaps, like me, you've always wanted to give skydiving a try - if only it didn't involve actually jumping out of an airplane? Here's your chance to fly - or rather freefall, skydiver style. iFLY is an indoor skydiving experience that uses a vertical wind tunnel and four powerful fans to give you true free fall conditions, just like skydiving.

You don't need to jump from an airplane, or worry about those important details, i.e. will my parachute engage? It's the newest challenging adventure in Chicagoland - and I dare you to jump in and soar, too!

I set out with my son, Daniel, age 13, and his cousins Ashley and John, ages 13 and 16 on a quiet Sunday morning. Conveniently located in the MB Financial Park, Rosemont's newest entertainment and restaurant district, iFLY just opened last month, and already families with kids of all ages - from as young as 3-years-old! - were waiting in line to give it a try. After watching a short video and learning the signals we'd need to use to communicate in the wind tunnel from our instructor, we donned flight suits, earplugs and helmets.

At the center of the facility lies the wind tunnel, a wall-to-wall air column. When my instructor guided me into the wind tunnel, I simply leaned in, assumed the free fall position, relaxed, and let the wind lift me. It was amazing! There was no jumping or any sensation of falling, and you're able to breathe normally. You just ... float. It was an experience like no other - both Zen-like, hilarious and exhilarating all at once.

I took two turns in the wind tunnel, each lasting about 60 seconds. An instructor is with you at all times, adding to the overall feeling of safety. During my second turn, my instructor helped me soar to the top of the wind tunnel: I felt literally like I was flying! Check out this link here to see me in flight!

My son, niece and nephew all had a blast, too. Initially a tad nervous, the qualified and gentle instructors put them at ease and coached them as they gained their confidence and took flight. My son had a very difficult time wiping the huge enthusiastic smile off his face afterwards, and my niece shared that she felt like she'd realized a dream - she had always wanted to fly! The entire experience was about 1 hour and 15 minutes from start to finish.

There is no experience required to give this a try, but you do need to be in general good health and physical condition for safety's sake, and there are a few more restrictions, too. That said, as long as you meet all the general guidelines, kids and adults ages 3 - 100 can take flight at iFLY - we even saw some preschoolers hit the wind tunnel before us - and the entire facility is wheelchair accessible and can fly people with certain physical disabilities, too. Add a free fall experience to your summer 2014 bucket list. It's the perfect challenge for everyone in your family: challenge yourselves and soar!

For more information, visit chicago.iflyworld.com