Indoor skydiving is a thrilling adrenaline activity for anyone who wants to experience the sensation of freefall, especially those who are afraid to step into an airplane.
For simulating this feeling, indoor skydiving facilities use a machine called a vertical wind tunnel, which can generate a strong enough slope of wind to keep you floating in the air.
It is a safe procedure, and to avoid any indoor skydiving accident, you will be instructed, guided, and watched over by trained instructors who will provide you with all the necessary information and a special indoor skydiving suit.
Even though indoor skydiving is used by skydivers, don’t mistake it for indoor parachuting. Which is an activity used for parachuting training.
Whether you are a skilled and experienced skydiver or a newcomer to this type of sport, it is an unforgettable and exciting experience to try at least once in your lifetime.
History of indoor skydiving
The first wind tunnel was invented by British engineer Francis Herbert Wenham in the late 19th century. His device was small and used smoke to visualize the aerodynamics of miniature models. It wasn’t very sophisticated, but it was a major step in the studying of aerodynamics. Since then, the wind tunnels have been used to test aircrafts and parachutes.
The first indoor skydive happened at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio during NASA research in the 1960s, when scientists experimented with human flight.
The first vertical wind tunnel designed and used specifically for human flight was designed in Canada near Montreal in 1978 by inventor Jean St-Germain. His initial goal was to build it for his kids to experience freefall in a safe environment. This inspired many inventors all around the world, and they started creating their own vertical wind tunnels for recreational activities.
Later on in 1984 the first commercial indoor skydiving facility opened in Las Vegas called Flyaway Indoor Skydiving. Since then, indoor skydiving has become a popular activity and has evolved in safety and experience through the use of more realistic technology.
Freefall is the experience of basically any object falling through the air without any external support or forces holding it back; in sports, it’s typically associated with skydiving from an airplane or base jumping. Even though there are no ways to simulate it completely on the ground, we can experience a similar sensation through a few activities, such as:
- Indoor Skydiving: As mentioned earlier, indoor skydiving uses a vertical wind tunnel to create upward wind strong enough to lift a person in the air and simulate the feeling of freefall. This is a controlled procedure in a safe environment, without the risks and fears of jumping out of an airplane.
- Skydiving Simulators: Some indoor skydiving facilities offer simulators that allow you to experience the sensation of freefall in a more gripping way. These simulators usually use a large dome-shaped screen or virtual reality goggles while suspending you in a harness.
- Bungee jumping: Bungee jumping is an activity in which you jump from high platforms, like bridges, with an elastic rope. In the first part, you can sense almost a freefall, and then the elastic cord stretches and bounces you back in the air.
- Cliff Jumping: Cliff jumping is similar to bungee jumping in that you jump down from a high cliff, but in this case you have nothing supporting or controlling your fall and you just simply land in the water.
How do indoor skydivers stay in the air?
The design and physics of wind tunnels generate an ascending slope of wind, reaching speeds of almost 120 mph. That is enough upward force to lift a person’s body weight off the ground and keep them floating in the air.
Indoor skydivers use different body positions to move and stay afloat. For example, with straight arms and legs, they create a large surface area to get lifted up by the wind. On the contrary, by tucking in their legs and arms, they decrease this area, which lets them descend through the slope.
Wind tunnels and skydiving
Wind tunnels have a major role in skydiving, as they are used by skydivers, scientists, and companies for skill improvement, parachutes or jumpsuit testing, and research of aerodynamic properties. This is because wind tunnels simulate the physics of freefall in a safe and controlled environment.
The combination of wind tunnels and biomechanics has let skydivers and researchers develop new techniques of movement and equipment to improve performance and safety of indoor skydiving.
Nevertheless, wind tunnels are also used by the general public just for fun, as they provide unforgettable experiences to everyone who tries stepping into one of these machines.
Your wind tunnel experience
Once you enter the wind tunnel, you will feel a strong upward wind lifting you off the ground. Then when you adjust your position in the air, you can control the movement. The sensation of wind rushing past your body is very similar to jumping out of an airplane and freefalling to the ground.
Then you can perform all kinds of fun movements like spinning, turning, floating higher and lower, or flipping. It almost feels like you could fly. Indoor wind tunnel skydiving is a very joyful and exhilarating activity that will leave you astonished afterwards. It only lasts a few minutes, but you’ll probably remember it forever.
Know before you go indoor skydiving
If you are planning to try indoor skydiving, here are some key things to know before you go.
- Age and health: Usually indoor skydiving facilities have some requirements before letting you in. In most of them, the required age for indoor skydiving is at least 3–4 years old, and you should be without any health problems. Some of them also have weight limits, so you should check their rules of entry before you go.
- Clothing: We advise you to wear comfortable and tight-fitting clothes without any zippers or loose parts that could get caught in the wind tunnel. Also try to avoid wearing jewelry, hats, and any other clothing that could fly off during your session.
- Pre-flight: Before the flight, the instructors will do a brief informative session that covers information about safety, including hand signals, body position, etc. If you have any questions, ask them before your flight to avoid any problems during your session.
- Body positioning: This point is important for a smooth indoor skydive session. Try to keep your arms straight and legs apart and slightly bent. Arch your back a little. This will keep your surface area a little larger to create resistance against the wind and keep you in the air.
- Communication: During the wind tunnel session, you can only communicate with your instructor with hand gestures. Pay attention to them before the flight and try to memorize them. They are used for your safety, but also to navigate you mid-session.
- Safety: As mentioned earlier, you will get safety instructions before the flight. They will cover all possible risks and provide information on how to minimize them. But have no worries; indoor skydiving is a safe activity, and the instructors are always there to help you if any issue arises.
Now you know all the basic information about this gripping and fascinating activity. It is safe, fun, and definitely worth trying, so you can go and book your indoor skydiving session and explore it for yourself.
We wish you a pleasant and joyful experience.