iFLY Portland is located in Tigard, nearby some great running areas. One of the most easily accessible places to run, and get a workout in before or after is on the Fanno Creek Trail. You can find yourself the trail off of North Dakota Street, just a 1/2 mile west. At that point, you can head north and get as long or as short of a run as you desire. The North Dakota – Denney route will get you about 2.7 miles one-way. If you are so inclined, you could also head on the series of trails that run North-South – up to almost 6 miles one-way. Races, such as the Greenway Trail Trial and the Stars and Stripes Marathon take place around these locations. There are so many trails in Tigard, that it’s hard to NOT find a place to run.
Now to the details to the experience itself:
This. Was. Amazing.
Even if I was less than stellar at it, the experience was top-notch and professional without being made to feel like a complete novice. Upon arriving, I felt as if we were getting ready to head into outer space. The lobby area had a clean and welcoming feel to it, with monitors showing some of what we were in for. I tried to exude confidence as my wife and I headed up the stairs to the second floor, where the vertical wind tunnel was situated. Some first time flyers were doing their thing with big old smiles on their faces. Come to find out that they were from a retirement center and the oldest flyer was 86 years old. Awesome!
We were quickly ushered into the training room by our instructor, Nick. He just moved into town from Seattle (it sounds like most of the instructors have come far and wide to help get iFly Portland off the ground – so to speak). We went over some basic hand signals, body positioning, and started watching a short video to get us ready. It was at this point that I turned to my wife and said, “I am going to suck at this”. Being a formal gymnast, very familiar with precise body control, I noted that it was likely she was going to be great at it.
I wasn’t far off.
Following our instruction, we went and got situated in our suits, helmets, and glasses. Fear not, glasses-wearing brethren, they have specially designed goggle for us.
As we were the only ones in our specified time frame, there was no time to sit around and be nervous – it was just diving right in. Typically, classes are up to 12 people, and I can attest that this would be a great place to have a bunch of family and friends to have fun with (i.e. running club, post-run celebration, etc). Before I discuss our experience, here is the science of the thing:
- A vertical wind tunnel has fans at the top to draw air through the flight chamber and then push it back down the sides through Return Air Towers (RATs).
- The air is ‘turned’ from the RATs into the bottom of the tunnel (plenum) and back up toward the flight chamber through an inlet contractor.
- The inlet contractor reduces the space the air can travel in, thus compressing and speeding up the air before it reenters the flight chamber.
- The result: a smooth column of air that enables you to fly.
I volunteered to go first and ventured into the tunnel with our instructor close by in the tunnel. Nick stayed standing on the ground, pulling our suits to keep us as centralized as possible, and giving us hand signals (that we were supposed to have memorized in the training…my bad) to keep us in good form. It looks so simple from the outside, but it’s definitely not so easy when you are in the thick of it – at least not for me. I didn’t do poorly by any means (though I liked to joke that I did), but it’s amazing how the slightest movement, like having your arms too close to your body or your chin down, can propel you in directions you really don’t want to go. The key word is RELAX – which I found easier said than done. My mind was racing to remember the hand signals, the 100 mile hour winds were making breathing feel much different, and I was trying to smile while attempting to keep the drool off my face.
My wife was a different story. She was a stinking natural (as you can see above). She remained calm and was going significant periods of time without really needing the instructor to be hands on. Little did she know that the next part was coming up – the “High Fly”. This is an add-on feature, and definitely offers quite the different perspective. While we were averaging about 5-8 feet above the net during practice, in High Fly the instructor takes a hold of you and goes up about 20-25 feet up in the tunnel a handful of times. That’s a whole ‘nother animal right there!
After a few flights, we got to watch our instructor take the reins and do some incredible stuff. Then a few other ones climbed into the tunnel and began a game I don’t quite know the rules to, but is impressive enough without the need to keep score (my apologies about the video – I knew to hold it the right way, and messed up!):
They make it look so effortless! We could have stuck around for hours and just watched these talented dudes do their thing. After taking off our gear, we got to look at a few of our videos and received a completion certificate to commemorate our flight.
There are a ton of great FAQ’s to read over, but know that this was an awesomely unique experience that I highly recommend. One thing to take not of is the recommendation to not fly if you have shoulder problems. I can attest that this will put some strain on your shoulders and shuold definitely look elsewhere if you have a history of dislocation.
So grab your best running frined, group, or family and look into all going together. WHile we had a great time, just me and my wife, it would definitely have more commodoire with others cheering you on. Check out the details below!
- Monday to Thursday: 10am-10pm
- Friday: 10am-11pm
- Saturday: 9am-11pm
- Sunday: 9am-10pm
Cost: Purchase tickets here:
- Varies depending on number of flyers, but 2 flights for 1 person is about $70 for 1st time flyers.
- Two (2) 1-Minute Flights
- One (1) Video Clip
- Hands-On Instruction
- Training Class
- Individual Flight Instructor during your flight
- Personalized Flight Certificate
Thank you to iFLY for providing Run Oregon with passes to take flight!