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Old 16th May 2011, 10:32 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Fly high safely at skydiving centre

Fly high safely at skydiving centre



Skydiving simulator iFly Singapore aims to open Wednesday.

By Joy Fang, my paper | Mon, May 16 2011


THRILL seekers itching to try out Singapore's first indoor skydiving facility should jump at the opportunity without fear.

That is because there are measures in place to ensure the safety of participants - or fliers, as they are called - said the facility's managing director, Mr Lawrence Koh.

Skydiving simulator iFly Singapore makes use of four fans the size of aeroplane propellers, located at the top of a wind tunnel, to generate powerful winds that are pushed to the bottom of the tunnel.

There, the winds are funnelled up through an inlet contractor, creating a gust strong enough to keep a flier afloat in mid-air, hence replicating the sensation of skydiving.

The facility does not have a backup generator, but even if the fans were to malfunction suddenly, the winds blowing at up to 300kmh would decelerate at a comfortable rate, explained Mr Koh.

Gravity will then take over, pulling fliers slowly - and safely - down to ground level.

A total of 11 male instructors will put fliers through their paces, accompanying them in the wind tunnel at all times.

Every instructor had to meet rigorous selection criteria before undergoing five weeks of intensive training, in compliance with guidelines set by the International Bodyflight Association.

iFly Singapore, located in Sentosa, is up and ready to go, but the attraction has one last hurdle to clear before getting the thumbs-up from the authorities.

Mr Koh, a former team leader of the Singapore Red Lions Parachuting Display Team, said he needs to obtain a public entertainment licence from the Singapore Police Force.

The $25-million facility has been riddled with delays and was originally slated to open in the second half of last year. Mr Koh hopes to open it to the public on Wednesday.

In the event of a no-go, the attraction will still open that day to VIPs and "test fliers".

The facility hopes to attract some 100,000 fliers and more than half a million visitors to a host of restaurants in the first year. Each adult ticket starts at $89 for two 45-second sessions, that is, about $1 per second of "flying".

Mr Koh said the sum is relatively affordable, compared to the cost of actual skydiving trips. To enjoy their sport, skydivers have to travel to countries such as Malaysia, as there are no drop zones in Singapore.

Such trips can set a skydiver back by about $500 per jump, not including airfare and accommodation, he said.

With iFly, "I hope to share this feeling of joy, flight and freedom with everyone", he added.


One 'jump', and I was addicted

It may have been just a simulation, but as I watched the seasoned instructors expertly flip-flopping around the tunnel, I suddenly felt like a chicken.

Donning a flight suit and wearing goggles, a helmet and ear plugs, I was geared up like someone about to take a leap of faith from an airplane some 10,000ft (3,000m) up in the sky.

As I inched towards the door of the tunnel, I could already feel the strong winds whipping against my face.

For a fleeting moment, I hesitated. Then without thinking, I jumped right in. I steeled myself and felt my body rising effortlessly, as if I was really in free fall.

Fear slowly left me and sheer exhilaration took over. I floated, rather uncontrollably, around the tunnel. Ascent and descent were solely controlled by subtle movements of the arms and legs.

Mr Lawrence Koh had explained that this was what an actual skydiver would experience once he reached terminal velocity, though without the heart-stopping feeling that comes from jumping out of an airplane.

I would have landed on my face several times if not for my very adept instructor, who firmly held on to me whenever I started to lose control. Yes, I did flip over on my back a few times but, thanks to him, I was "rescued" each time.

It was tremendously addictive.

On my third attempt, I was ready to try the special Fly The Flyer manoeuvre. The instructor hooked my arm and swung me round, sending me spinning to the top of the five-storey-high tunnel before we both plunged rapidly.

When it was over, I emerged from the simulator with a wide grin on my face: This chicken has "flown".

Source: http://relax.com.sg/relax/news/63328...ng_centre.html

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