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Boy, was it hot! The Flight of the Phoenix, hosted by iFLY Phoenix, last week August 24-25th, was on fire. 75 competitors from all over the US descended on the desert, bringing their A game with them.
**“I now understand what everyone said about competing and how addicting it is.. with that said, see you in Tampa!”**
Starting Monday, block time began filling in odd hours throughout the day and by Wednesday, there were hugs and high fives all around the flight deck as more and more people began showing up. Wednesday evening officially kicked off the competition with a Happy Hour Social at a nearby hotel. Thursday morning was fully booked with competitor’s squeezing in last minute training time before the 2:30pm brief. Promptly at 4pm, the wind picked up and the competition was on!
Fifteen 2-way Vertical, two 4-way Vertical, and four 4-way Formation teams kicked off the event flying through all six rounds of 2-way and five rounds of 4-way. Teams were burning through rounds, turning points, while announcers Allen Sparks and Jarrett Martin provided commentary and kept the crowd entertained. As the sun set over the Arizona mountains, the three Dynamic 4-way teams entered the tunnel, including current US National champions, team Prana Vayu out of iFLY Portland. Unlike other IBA competitions of the past, this time around we included Free routines, where teams are given 90 seconds to create a completely unique routine. These were by far the crowd favorite! The event ended by 10pm, and soon after we all grouped back together at 4 Peaks Brewery.
Friday kicked off with another news crew, filming interviews as 4-way Formation and Vertical finished off their remaining 5 rounds. We quickly ‘dove’ into Dynamic 2-way Advanced and Open, with four and seven teams respectively. Guest commentators BJ Michaeli and Tim Hunckler did an excellent job describing to both the spectators and the Livestream audience what was happening as the competitors zoomed around the tunnel. Freestyle was the final event, where 4 Juniors and 8 adults brought massive applause for their incredible tricks and the smoothness in which they were performed. And with that, the competition concluded in a final ‘huck jam’ before first-timers were right back in the wind.
The awards ceremony commenced at 7pm at the cinema next door, where an empty theater provided the perfect setting to play event videos while competitors, friends, and family could mingle over food and drinks. The sound of cheering was endless as we awards medals to all 14 different events, giving every participating team a prize.
Congratulations to all competitors and a standing ovation to the staff of iFLY Phoenix, especially Brittan Spencer and Diane Ortiz, as well as the videographer Michael Cunningham, photographer Dave Wybenga, the judges, and everyone else involved in making this event a success.
Katie McNally, Sales Coordinator of iFLY Westchester and gold medal winner of 2way VFS Intermediate, put it best when she said, “I now understand what everyone said about competing and how addicting it is.. with that said, see you in Tampa!”