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The sky's the limit with indoor skydiving

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A sky-high experience awaits if you're a flight instructor!

When Kumaresan tells his friends that he's a flight instructor, he often gets asked: "Which airline?"

The indoor skydiving instructor always replies with a chuckle: "iFly!"

After going for a quick flight in the wind chamber at iFly Singapore, I sat down with Kumar to catch my breath and find out what being a flight instructor is like.

Who: Kumaresan Jayakrishnan, 31
Occupation: Flight instructor at iFly Singapore
Studied: Diploma in electronics at Temasek Polytechnic, and instructor certification by iFly Singapore

Tell us more about yourself!

I came to love skydiving from my army days. I fell out of planes from the sky and fell in love with the view and freedom you feel from skydiving.

Kumar supports me as I try to fly
KUMAR HOLDING ME AS I TRY TO FLY.
PHOTO CREDIT: iFLY SINGAPORE

Even though I studied electronics in Temasek Polytechnic, I immediately sent in my application when I saw an opening as a flight instructor.

When I'm not working, you can find me at the gym keeping fit, or at home watching TV or building LEGOs to get my mind off work. Currently I'm building the Batman Tumbler.

What's a typical day like for you?

Usually I'll come in, joke around with my colleagues, and we'll check if we have classes that day. Then we'll gear up and go to the demo room to pick up our "students", show them the basic flying positions, and usher them into the wind tunnel.

If we don't have classes for the day, we'll ask the wind tunnel technician if we can go into the tunnel to practice, or get more senior flight instructors to teach us new things.

In the demo room, Kumar showed us how our body should be like in the wind tunnel
KUMAR SHOWED US HOW TO POSITION OURSELVES IN THE WIND TUNNEL.

I've learnt a lot from my seniors who taught me the Sit Fly, Belly Fly, Back Fly and so on.

We also train our speed control and how to fly in groups. It's a lot of fun and learning, and everyone has become a family.

Kumar practicing tricks with his colleagues in the wind tunnel
KUMAR AND HIS COLLEAGUES PRACTICE AND LEARN NEW TRICKS WHEN THE TUNNEL IS EMPTY.
PHOTO CREDIT: IFLY SINGAPORE

What's the difference between "skydiving" in the wind tunnel and the outdoors? Which do you like better?

I guess I'm impartial. Many pro skydivers come to iFly to practise their form before they go jump out of a real plane. They both have their pros and cons.

When you're in the tunnel, it's safer and more controlled, and you get to see the sea view outside, so that's nice.

But when you're in the sky, it's limitless, and you can see everything as far as your eyes can see. There are no walls to hold you back and you can do anything!

The sea view that the tunnel overlooks
iFLY AT SENTOSA OVERLOOKS THE SEA.

Your job is really out of the ordinary, have you ever used it as a date idea?

Well, currently I'm single and available. I did ask a date once if she wanted to come indoor skydiving with me, but she was more concerned about how her hair would look after coming out of the wind tunnel.

What's the most challenging thing about your job?

Personally, I really like taking in seniors. The oldest person I've taken was 88 years old. It's a challenge because they can be a little bit slower than the younger crowd, and you have to keep repeating what you said so that they can catch it.

But it's also the most rewarding thing about my job, because seeing people who thought they couldn't fly ending up looking really happy when they're flying by themselves is the best thing.

Any words of advice for those who want to go down the same path you did?

Be a daredevil. Oh, and make sure you keep fit. It takes a lot of strength to hold on to the people who are flying, and to do tricks in the tunnel too!

Educational requirements: You need at least a diploma, and an instructor certification from the International Bodyflight Association (IBA), which can be done at iFly.

Qualities needed: Being teachable, especially since you're always learning from more senior instructors, and patient, especially with the people who are flying with for the first time.

Salary range: Starting salary from $2,000 - $2,500

Working hours: 7.30am onwards, in shifts ranging from five to 10 hours each.

Career prospects: You can train to be a trainer for other instructors, or go overseas to work at other wind tunnels (the IBA certification is internationally recognised). You could also go for competitions overseas.