Moving Picture: Naperville indoor skydiving instructor shares 'gift of flight'
A typical job for a recent high school graduate might include folding T-shirts at a clothing store, serving up lattes at a coffee shop or flipping burgers at a fast food joint. But Bailey Engel teaches people to fly -- through indoor sky diving.
"Sharing the gift of flight is definitely a special thing," the 20-year-old Naperville resident said.
Engel didn't know anything about sky diving or indoor sky diving before checking out the indoor sky diving experience, iFLY, when it opened in July 2014 in Naperville. iFLY provides the rush of sky diving with aerial free-falls in a vertical wind tunnel.
Engel was so impressed with what he saw that he applied for the job of tunnel instructor and flew in the tunnel for the first time on the same day. He started as an instructor two months later and went through the instructor training program.
In the three-week program, he would spend 40 hours a week training. Four to five hours would be spent in the tunnel each day preparing for more complex situations.
He has learned through his training how to keep clients as safe as possible, especially those doing more advanced indoor sky diving moves.
Engel is one of the youngest instructors in the Chicago area. He was born and raised in Naperville and is a graduate of Neuqua Valley High School in 2013.
"I have a bit of a different perspective being so young," he said. "It's just a really cool, unique experience for me."
He has been in his job for nine months and is moving his way up in experience. There are four levels for the instructors and Engel is at level two. As he moves up in the levels, he can take more advanced fliers in the tunnel.
Sessions start off with a class, where he teaches students hand signals, body positions, and things to do and not to do. This is his first job teaching others, and he enjoys the experience.
"I never thought I would be in a position to teach others anything, let alone flying, he said. He is able to teach all ages from very young children to senior citizens. He has even worked with people who have disabilities.
Indoor sky diving has led Engel to make actual sky diving jumps. As of this spring he has made seven jumps. His plans for the future are to keep flying and teaching at iFLY and to continue making sky diving jumps.
He can sum up his job with a few words.
"This job has changed my life. It's just awesome to see, really, how cool my job is. It's exciting."