The iFLY Accident and What We Can Learn From It

“Sports”. A noun. And as defined by Dictionary.comit is an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature. 

In today’s society, many people are picking up some sort of sport to keep themselves healthy, fit and for some, just merely out of passion. “The love for the game” as some would say. Yes, running to rock climbing to soccer and to even bridge (a card game) is a sport.

Recently, on Monday, 15th January 2012, i chanced upon an article in The Sunday Times:

“iFly Singapore has first accident after instructor fractures shin”

And as i continued to read on, i realised it was the instructor who took me on my SECOND iFLY flight just a month ago – Scott Pereira. 😦 So apparently, what happened was that while performing a high-speed maneuver, he failed to break his decent and his leg hit the netting below.

MY 2-CENTS THOUGHT ON THIS:

1) The INSTRUCTOR got injured because he was performing a stunt for the beginner flyers.

Freak accident. It wasnt as if the the net suddenly gave way OR the fan blew him out of the wind tunnel like in Wizard Of Oz. He was performing a stunt, a MUCH MORE DANGEROUS demonstration when that happened. Although it is naturally interesting to watch and see someone performing something which we will never master in an hour’s time (because we are lazy creatures to begin with), the harder and WOW-er the moves are, the more higher risk of injuries. Duhh!

Personally, I have been to iFLY twice and flown in the wind tunnel for the 6th time  and nothing happened to me. Well, thats because i stuck to the instructions that the instructor told us. Nothing fancy, just pure indoor skydiving flight experience. And yes, i still have my limbs in tact and i didnt sprain my shins. 🙂

2) Indoor skydiving and the safety net saved Scott’s life.

Just saying. Had it been an outdoor, real life, 15,000ft up in the air, and you make one wrong move, thats it. You’re a goner. The indoor skydiving wind tunnel allows you to experience skydiving without forking out the hefty sum of money and its also relatively safer. I remembered seeing kids flying in it and they loved it.

It was kinda like a family affair thing going on and i must say, it was indeed fun. It kinda preps you up for the real one actually. I used to think jumping out of the airplane and maneuvering in the sky is easy, but apparently, it is an activity requiring skill or physical prowess up in the sky with no safety net. Just you, your parachute and prolly some birds in flying around. Tweet tweet!

I’ll be frank with you – all sports are dangerous. Be it you’re jogging or running or simply playing bowling, there will be some element of risks involved. Noticed i mentioned RISKS and not INJURIES? Thats because if you are in the right state of mind and body, chances are, you minimize your risk of getting injured, sprained whatever. There will always be risks, but not always be injuries.

The 4 factors that COULD result in injury while playing sports:

  1. Not physically fit
  2. Not mentally prepared
  3. Performing much riskier stunts
  4. Act of god

Over the years had my fair share of knocks and bruises and sprains and even scars from playing a multitude of sports. From soccer to rugby (i was stomped on my head) to mountain biking (where i fell and was knocked unconscious, sustaining a scar below my eye) and many more other vigorous activities, you name it. But I know i cant lead that kind of lifestyle. Life is too short and the world is too exciting and fun just waiting to be explored and discovered. As the great 19th-century theologian, WIlliam Shedd once said:

“A ship in a harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”

But ultimately, the benefits of playing sports and being active, out weighs the detrimental effects of not having an active lifestyle and being a couch potato. That being said – now get out there and run, bike, swim or even FLY!

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8 thoughts on “The iFLY Accident and What We Can Learn From It

  1. Pingback: The iFLY Accident and What We Can Learn From It | Why We Run … | Indoor Skydiving Locations

    • Hahaha!! I wasn’t there during the accident. But when I flew in the wind tunnel 6 times, yes, the door was opened.

      As long as the main entrance to the seating area in the wind tunnel was closed, is fine I reckon. 🙂

      How was your ifly experience anyways? 🙂

      • I think Jane was referring to the seating area that was open during the flight. This is certainly the account from others who were there.

        I should make a point to say that there is no actual consensus that the opened doors were the cause of the incident, so this isn’t a finger of accusation at one or another thing being the culprit.

        Just thought I’d point out that when it comes to the press releases by iFly and public comments made by their staff and PR team (via Facebook etc), there are factual inconsistencies with what witnesses saw. I doubt many of iFly’s own staff, investors, etc, know any more than they were told, and those who know are doing their best to cover their tracks or shift blame.

        At this point, it seems like damage control is their #1 priority, not facts, which isn’t really surprising I suppose.

      • To clarify, the door to the seating area were indeed open during the flight. It seems that the door was initially closed, but was opened towards the end of that session.

        Apparently, there was also an extra person present (not from the flying group) who kept poking his head into the tunnel.

  2. I have various reliable sources, some of whom witnessed the event, others who have been in direct contact with witnesses, doctors, etc. When you hear a few separate people say the same thing, you start to get a sense of what might have actually happened.

    Here are some of the facts missed from the iFly press releases.

    – It is of some professional opinion that Scott Pereira was not performing a manoeuvre where it was possible that personal judgement errors could have landed himself in hospital as badly injured as he did. Regardless of position, if the wind was blowing as fast as it was (it was turned on higher than it was normally) then you wouldn’t have fallen with enough speed.

    – Contrary to what was reported, he did not simply break his shin. He sustained injuries to both legs, chest and neck. This includes heavy skin tearing, flesh and muscle damage, nerve, etc.

    – His leg broke through the safety net (which is actually a metal mesh) and it tore through his skin. He now requires considerable skin grafting on that entire lower leg. Skin from his thighs will be used in the grafting. He will be scarred quite badly so it is possible that he will need much more cosmetic treatment over some time.

    – Although they reported that he made a poor judgement call and thus got injured, iFly would have had no idea because they had not investigated and simply put out a statement to cover their asses. In fact, the attraction was reopened shortly after the incident, just hours after Scott was taken to the hospital.

    – At the time the press releases were made saying that he was ‘recovering and resting well’, he was actually between operations to repair his broken bones and another operation to repair nerve and muscle damage. I admire optimism, but how could you be ‘recovering’ when you are still waiting to enter the operating room. So while they were putting out press that the accident was Pereira’s fault, but its ok he only broke his shin and is recovering, everything is fine, etc – they actually had no idea what had happened and scrambled to cover their asses.

    – iFly closed the attraction for ‘spring cleaning’ only 3 days after the incident occurred.

    I suspect they still don’t know what really happened, but I doubt they care as much as their $$ bottomline. I wonder if legal action will be taken against them.

    • Hello!

      Thanks for the very detailed information.

      First and foremost, we do not represent iFLY. But, personally, i must say that if what you say is true (as i can just jump into conclusion here, can i?) then i guess, the iFLY management really have got to work on its crisis management.

      But as said in my post, i have flown in the wind tunnel 6 times and thankfully nothing happen. Regarding the instructor who was not performing a stunt, from my experience there, usually, at the end of the session, the instructor would show off some fantastic and rather exciting moves, which is also dangerous.

      I guess this is a case of an unfortunate accident. Thankfully, it happened to the instructor rather than to a public. Because i know for sure that the wind speed for public use is never as fast as when the instructors are inside performing their moves.

      I just hope that Scott recovers fast and well and sustain no serious long term injuries. He took me on my 2nd visit at iFLY. Nice chap.

      Once again, thanks for the really indepth update on the situation. Good to know of something new like this. 🙂

      • There is always danger of course. I think the whole point is that there is an element of excitement in the perceived danger. As with bungee jumping, sky diving, et al.

        I am certainly not put off in any way by one accident, and I should hope that even Scott wouldn’t. I don’t wish iFly’s demise at all, I think it’s a fun activity that more people should try. Life is meant for living, carpe diem, and all that.

        As for iFly’s crisis management, that’s debatable. On the one hand, if no one came forward to expose the issue, then it would just be swept under the rug, and you might say that it was perfect crisis management. Of course, these days, hiding something is much harder with all the communication channels out there. Then there’s the issue that unless they improve their safety procedure, it could happen to someone else. Then what?

        All I know is that there is a right and a wrong, and thus far, what iFly has done is not only a powder-keg of bad PR waiting to happen; it is also just morally reprehensible. Shouldn’t their instructor’s wellbeing have come before dollars? Of course it’s naïve to think that they wouldn’t try to protect their wallets first, but somehow you just hope that corporations wouldn’t be so disappointingly predictable that they wouldn’t even wait to find out if their instructor was actually doing well before declaring “He’s fine! On with the show.”. I’m paraphrasing of course, but you get the gist.

        Of course, we’ll don’t know how this will pan out for them just yet, but needless to say, now that it threatens their bottom-line, they’ll probably do something about it. If indeed Scott’s family decided to go public with their case, or there is some detail that iFly specifically hid from the public, or even if there is just any doubt cast on iFly’s decision to jump the gun and declare an all-clear before they knew anything, it would be very bad for them. The media would have a field day.

        At the end of the day, I am also just recounting one side of the story. I just want people to know that there IS another side.

        And here’s something to think about. The wind in the tunnel is so strong that it it buffers you even when you are standing completely vertical. How would someone fall fast and hard enough on that wall of air; that it would damaging even the safety net. And if it WAS indeed possible to do fall that hard wind notwithstanding, then why isn’t the ‘safety net’ actually preventing injury instead of causing the skin to be torn off a persons leg? What exactly is the ‘safety’ aspect of such a ‘net’?

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