Simulated Skydiving in a Wind Tunnel

Simulated Skydiving Simulated skydiving is a great introduction to skydving. Read how we learned to fly in the wind tunnel of an indoor skydiving center.

One of the most exciting things to experience is a free fall. Skydiving from an airplane has long been the only opportunity to experience the feeling of falling. But the drawbacks are the costs, and the fact that you are still connected to an instructor, unless you take an expensive course to become a licensed skydiver. Currently however, there is a possibility for simulated skydiving. We went to an indoor skydiving center to see what it’s like to fly in a vertical wind tunnel.

The indoor skydiving center consists of a large, vertical wind tunnel. The wind is blowing upwards so that people can float on it. With your eyes closed, it is the same experience as a free fall. With your eyes open, it’s more like flying or floating.

Waiting and Watching

Our skydiving teamWhen we arrive at the indoor skydiving center, we hear that we still have an hour before our instruction starts. In the meantime, we can sit in the restaurant and see the people currently skydiving in the wind tunnel on large screens on the walls. We see how the instructors hold the people while they are in mid-air. It seems to be very difficult to stay on the same spot. The instructors prevent them from hitting the glass walls, and they are trying to teach the people to prevent that themselves. It seems not to be very easy, but very exciting.

Instructions

At the indicated time we move upstairs, only to hear that we have to wait a little longer. But we are given suits, a helmet, protective glasses, a hairnet, and earplugs so we can prepare ourselves. We need to put our wallets, keys, watches, earrings, and all other loose material into a locker. Then we are led into an instruction room, where a video with instructions is shown. We learn some basic signs with which the instructors will indicate to stretch or bend our legs, lift our hands, to relax our limbs, etcetera.

When the video ends, an instructor gives us some extra pointers. The main thing is to relax so that the wind can flow on all sides of your body. The time will be too short for most of us to learn exactly how to steer, but the instructors will make sure everybody has a good simulated skydiving time.

Into the tunnel

Exit from the wind tunnelIt’s time to go into the tunnel. Via two doors, the first needs to be locked before we can enter the second, we reach the area around the wind tunnel. A glass wall is separating us from the tunnel, and there are two open doors in it, one to enter, and one to exit the wind tunnel. We see the list of participants on a monitor, and the first one on the list needs to step into the entrance door. Slowly, he needs to fall inside, and is immediately lifted by the wind. The instructor holds him and checks his stability in the air. With some signs he shows how to improve stability, and then the instructor lets go. We see through the glass wand how he is floating through the wind tunnel, from left to right, a bit up and down, now and again steered by the instructor. After exactly 90 seconds he is guided to the exit to step out, and the next one enters from the other side.

One by one we all step into the tunnel. Some are quick to learn how to float, others need more guidance from the instructor. But indeed, the instructors make sure everybody has a good time. For some this means they try to teach them how to steer and fly freely, for others it means they guide them, flying around or moving up and down.

An amazing feeling

The indoor skydiving instructor at workFrom the moment of falling through the entrance of the wind tunnel, the feeling is amazing. Finding the right position takes a little while, but works if you remember to stay relaxed. Then, following the instructions, it is amazing to feel how small movements of an arm or leg lets you float from one side to the other, and up or down. It is very difficult not to bump into the walls while experimenting with it, but the instructor is always near to adjust, and give some more pointers how to steer. The 90 seconds are quickly gone, although it is a long enough to get a feeling of flying.

Everybody gets to fly for 90 seconds twice, and then we leave the noisy wind tunnel. Outside, it’s helmets off, earplugs out, and everybody starts telling each other how amazing it was. We shoot a team picture, get a flying certificate, and put our normal clothes on. We leave the indoor skydiving center with a video of our flying experience, and continue the afternoon with a barbeque, still excited about our new experience of flying.

Simulated skydiving has proven to be a great way to get acquainted to skydiving. Obviously, the views and feeling of jumping from an airplane cannot be simulated. But the feeling of flying is the same, and it is much easier to learn how to move in mid air. It makes the step to a free fall much easier.


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