Friday, August 29, 2014

Fly High This Fathers Day

This outing and it's associated experience was gifted by iFLY Downunder. No payment was offered or accepted and all opinions are my own. It's a tough gig being a blogger sometimes.

It has become an ongoing challenge for me to find new and exciting experiences to give Husband for Fathers Day. We try to give the gift of memories rather than the gift of stuff, I want the kids to look back and remember Mothers and Fathers Day as being a special time of togetherness.

This year I was scratching for inspiration, we've done V8 racing and Jetpack in recent years, so exactly what was left?

Indoor Skydiving, that's what! Husband and I joined a group of bloggers this week for a truly phenomenal experience at the newly opened iFLY facility at Penrith. This intriguing new facility opened back in April, and we've driven past many times, curious at what was happening inside the imposing, MASSIVE building.

We were taken for a tour behind the scenes of this 12 MILLION Dollar facility. Besides the impressive 1st floor where the actual sky diving is done, we saw a beautifully appointed conference room, the generator room where the electricity needed to keep everything running is generated (and you should have heard that room HUM when the air chamber really got cranked up), and even went up to the roof where the view of Penrith is phenomenal.

Behind the scenes: The view from the top, the conference room, and the souped up electricity generator room.

Busting Some Myths

Do I have to jump? When I was invited to this event, I made the assumption that Indoor Sky Diving meant that I was going to have to jump in order to have this experience. Instead of saying "Hell No", I quickly extended the invitation to Husband and claimed the credit as a Fathers Day present. As it turns out, there is no jumping. You step/lean into the chamber via a door at the regular point of entry and from there the force of the air coming from beneath lifts you. The air speed is kept at a pace appropriate to your flight level, and your instructor (who is shocking capable of keeping his feet while the flyer is in the dive position) supports you in not going higher than you are ready for, while also helping you to learn how to navigate the chamber using a series of hand signals.

Is this is a one off recreational experience? We've done lots of fun unique activities before - zorbing, water jet pack, V8 race car driving - and I thought this would fit the same category. I was quickly disabused of this notion as I watched the different skill levels of people who have been returning and improving over time. Each minute you spend in the chamber you can expect to improve your body control, and we saw people who were starting to fly on their backs as well as plenty of instructors showing off by doing some incredibly graceful, coordinated, group sky diving.

Surely this is expensive? No.....and Yes. At $109 for 2 flights (and 1 minute per flight!) during peak time this sure seemed expensive at first. After getting to understand the sport (and you better believe that some of these regular sky divers are absolutely athletes) I can see how it can be much more affordable over time. Besides being able to purchase greater volumes of flights in packages that can be shared amongst multiple people to bring the price per flight down, once a flyers skill level is up to the point that they can tandem dive (or even dive with up to 5 people!) they can share their own and their friends/family members flights at no additional cost. And that's where this can become quite an affordable sport to take part in. The more you fly, the cheaper it gets. Our tour guide threw around some numbers, and essentially the price can end up as low as $2 per flight for experienced divers
After suiting up and going through some training, our blogger group all lined up in the sealed seating area alongside the glass air chamber. In a seamless transition, each person was able to take their turn with an instructor putting them through their paces. Everyone was grinning through their minute - although admittedly that was probably as much to do with the drool that would fly out of mouths if they weren't kept stretched! We saw plenty of stacks - Husband gave me a heart attack when he suddenly manipulated his body in such a way that he crashed into the glass wall, and hard. A highlight for all was the iFLY High experience. In a massive shock for the first blogger in our group, although the others were anticipating it, in the last 20 seconds or so of each flyers second minute, the instructor would take their hands and suddenly the air speed would shift and the two would fly high up into the chamber, plummeting low seconds later and shooting way up again. I heard screams of equal parts delight and terror through this, and for an additional $10 I recommend this add on for all the adrenalin junkies in your group!

Once the iFLY experience was over, each of the flyers was ravenous. Sky diving burns an enormous amount of energy, and everyone was more than ready to refuel. It was then that I met the gem that iFLY have uncovered in Nellie, the Manager and Proprietor of their UPRAW cafe.

Nellie, and an arrangement of her delicious foods and delightful cafe

1 year ago, Nellie was a single Mum travelling around Australia with her adorable 3 year old daughter in a caravan.She had long since discovered the benefits of raw foods and was extremely conscious of every bite she was putting into her own and her daughters mouths. Nellie's menu's were a perfect fit for iFLY, fresh, wholesome foods without a scrap of processed sugar in them, just right to refuel starving customers who have been burning energy on sky diving.

I will admit to being sceptical about the raw foods. While we try to eliminate as much sugar as possible from our own and our kids diets, we have come to accept that most processed foods appeal more to our taste buds. In addition, I have to be very careful what I eat because of my Crohns, and as a result I actually had to pick around some of the food to avoid my own personal "bad" ingredients, but everything I was able to eat was delicious, my favourite being her sweet potato chips. Everyone around me scarfed down their meals. Nellie has found a perfect balance between healthy, delicious, and mainstream to appeal to everyone - because the truth is that out in Penrith where we live and where iFLY is currently located, Raw Foods and Health focused stores still don't have the strong presence that you might find closer to Sydney. Cafes like UPRAW will go a long way towards changing that though

iFLY does kids party packages as well, so I asked Nellie how the kids find her Raw Foods. She prepares her own sausage rolls, beef burgers, chips, all packed with veggies but all the kids see is the party foods they know and love so they scarf it down.

If you are interested in creating memories for Dad this Fathers Day, or even just getting out for a great day with friends or family, come on out our way to Penrith and give iFLY a try. I promise it will be a memory worth making! If you do, make sure you upload a photo to Facebook and tag Mummy Hearts Money so I can check out your moves.

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