FOX 32 NEWS - Tuesday was National Airborne Day, which honors the many brave servicemen and women who have defended our country both on the ground and in the air.
And today, there was a first of its kind event in Lincoln Park honoring disabled veterans with the opportunity to fly.
It’s the very real sensation of free falling - only it’s indoors. I-Fly Chicago invited disabled veterans and para-athletes to experience the thrill of skydiving while only a few feet off the ground.
"Once they get suited up and get ready to go there's really very little difference for their capability to fly in an indoor skydiving environment from anyone else,” said GM of I-Fly Dave Janossy.
It’s been more than 20-years since former Airforce MP Desiree Morris last skydived. She’s sight impaired, but like many of the nearly 4-million disabled American veterans, she believes in the importance of staying active.
"I'm getting older and I still think that people my age that are veterans that are active can still participate in things that younger people do and that's why I'm here,” said Desiree Morris.
The simulator has two giant fans overhead. They produce a wind flow at 162 miles per hour. That wind is pushed along the top of the building, down the side of the building, down beneath the person inside. It is then funneled and shot up to give anyone inside the simulator the sensation that they have actually jumped out of an airplane.
Jose Alejandre lost the use of his legs five years ago, but he hasn't let it slow him down. He competes in Paratriathlons and believes skydiving, even in a simulation, offers the same kind of rush
“I can swim, I can go fast on my hand cycle well hold on I can go faster so that gave me a sense of freedom having the ability to move forward as fast as I can and this will allow me to flow as fast as i can,” Alejandre said.
Chicago is home to the oldest chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association with some members dating as far back as World War II.