Indoor skydiving in VR: As good as the real thing?

The best part is you don’t have to throw yourself out of a plane.

Lexy Savvides Principal Video Producer
Lexy is an on-air presenter and award-winning producer who covers consumer tech, including the latest smartphones, wearables and emerging trends like assistive robotics. She's won two Gold Telly Awards for her video series Beta Test. Prior to her career at CNET, she was a magazine editor, radio announcer and DJ. Lexy is based in San Francisco.
Expertise Wearables, smartwatches, mobile phones, photography, health tech, assistive robotics Credentials
  • Webby Award honoree, 2x Gold Telly Award winner
Lexy Savvides
2 min read

I'm in a plane 10,000 feet above Hawaii when a skydiver gives me the signal to jump.

My heart skips a beat as I fall out of the plane and suddenly, with the wind rushing around me, I'm hurtling toward Earth. 

Watch this: Skydiving in VR is ridiculous and fun

Being too scared to actually throw myself out of a real plane, indoor skydiving with a VR headset is the next best thing. For a second, as the wind hits my body and I'm looking at the view in my headset, it feels all too real. 

At 28 iFly locations around the US, flyers can experience what it's like to jump over locations like Dubai, Hawaii or the Swiss Alps -- no plane required. This isn't the first time I've done indoor skydiving, but it's the first time I've tried it without seeing the tunnel during my flight.

I put on a modified skydiving helmet that holds a Gear VR headset and Samsung Galaxy S8 . I can navigate to the tunnel entry thanks to the rear camera that feeds in a live view so I don't trip over. But once I'm at the entrance, the view in the headset switches to the VR clip.

After a quick countdown, my instructor leans me into the wind and I'm flying above Dubai, my second jump for the day. Watch the video on this page to see how it feels.

The instructor helps sync the experience in the headset to the experience in the tunnel. Simulcast to an external display, they see exactly when to guide you into the tunnel. When the parachute deploys, that signals your time to exit. 

So is it as good as the real thing? Having never tried real skydiving it's hard to make that call, but iFly regional marketing manager and experienced skydiver Veronica Guzik tells me it's "pretty darn close".

The VR experience will soon expand to other iFly locations around the world.