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All about open-air and indoor skydiving

What does skydiving mean?

It is a sport of jumping where the jumper maneuvers in free fall from an aircraft and is falling through the air before deploying a parachute. This means that a free fall occurs when a person jumps out of an aircraft. In other words – to plunge (dive) into the sky, reaching a significant speed.
Skydiver’s “free fall” after reaching terminal velocity produces the sensation of the body’s weight being supported on a cushion of air.
Skydiving is a popular adventure sport, it also has applications in different fields, in the military for example, when troops are required to land at specific sites after jumping out of an aircraft.
The term “free fall skydiving” is commonly used to describe this case in everyday speech and in the skydiving community.

What is freefall skydiving?

In Newtonian physics, free fall is any motion of a body where gravity is the only force acting upon it. In the context of general relativity, where gravitation is reduced to a space-time curvature, a body in free fall has no force acting on it (source: Wikipedia)

How much does freefall skydiving cost?

Skydiving prices vary from place to place. Single jumps usually start from $190 and can go up to $300.

What is a skydiving simulation?

Special devices, which simulate the experience of freefall, are a perfect tool to find out what skydiving feels like without jumping from an airplane. They are capable of generating sufficient airflow and certain conditions that keep this flow stable and usable for simulating skydiving.
Airflow is created inside a big vertical cylinder known as a wind tunnel.
“Vertical wind tunnels are used to practice for free fall (indoor skydiving or bodyflight), while virtual reality parachute simulators are used to practice parachute control”.
(Source: Wikipedia)
Skydiving wind tunnels work by either pushing the air up from below or sucking it up from above using huge air fans. The experience is the same in both types – the wind is rushing up at you, holding you as you learn to maneuver your body through the air.

What does freefall mean?

An object in the technical sense of the term “free fall” may not necessarily be falling down in the usual sense of the term. An object moving upwards would not normally be considered to be falling, but if it is subject to the force of gravity only, it is said to be in free fall. From a physics point of view, this means that when the air flow rate reaches ca. 200 km/h (124 mph), the human body cannot fall down and keeps a constant altitude above the ground surface. By generating such a fast and stable air flow from the ground, conditions in which the body loses weight are created. Thus, people can enjoy the sensation of free fall by simulating skydiving.

What does indoor skydiving mean?

Indoor skydiving, also known as bodyflight, is a sport of flying in a vertical wind tunnel. While usually these skydiving simulations take place indoors, the term is also used for flying in outdoor wind tunnels.

What are the tools for skydiving simulation?

Skydiving is simulated with the help of vertical wind tunnels. They come in different shapes and sizes; nevertheless, there are two most common types:

– blower/air pusher tunnels are independent of any type of external structure and can be placed outdoors.

– sucker/vacuum wind tunnels are completely dependent on the external structures, which hold the air fans. The fans can be placed either on top or at the bottom of the flying chamber.

What is an indoor skydiving vertical wind tunnel?

It is a facility enabling skydiving simulation. A turbine generates a vertical wind column with an airflow of 220-270 km/h (136-168 mph). This chamber is called a wind tunnel and enables bodyflying and floating mid-air. The chamber is equipped with safe surroundings, cushions and safety nets.

What is an outdoor skydiving vertical wind tunnel?

Outdoor or open-air (open-type) tunnels allow customers to enjoy the true sensation of flying without restrictions. In open-type wind tunnels, the flyer is not positioned inside the perimeter-bound protective glass or other similar barriers. Hence, the flight itself is more like a free fall flight, gives more freedom and does not limit the view.
A specially designed wind flow prevents the flyer from leaving the wind column and helps staying in the optimum wind flow zone.
For safety reasons, the outer perimeter of the wind tunnel is equipped with a special safety net and the floor features padded cushions.
Outdoor/open-air vertical wind tunnels are commonly used for shows, events, and brand promotion, but can be also operated in permanent locations.

How fast is the wind in an indoor skydiving wind tunnel?

The object will eventually reach a terminal velocity, which is around 53 m/s (195 km/h or 122 mph[1]) for a human skydiver. In a face-down position, the average value of terminal velocity (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminal_velocity) is 180 to 210 km/h (120 mph). In another position called headfirst, the terminal velocity can reach over 320 km/h (200 mph).

Is indoor skydiving similar to real skydiving?

Indoor/outdoor skydiving is a ‘skydiving simulator’. That means it gives you an experience as close as possible to real skydiving. The body responds to the air in the same way as it does when you jump from an airplane, where you can use your arms and legs to turn and move around.
On the other hand, you do not experience a true fall. Resistance to the airflow that is able to hold you above the ground is subject to a certain amount of body effort. Indoor skydiving is great fun, but it is cannot substitute the amazing views, which you can admire during skydiving. At the same time, people who are afraid of heights would rather enjoy flying in a controlled environment.

How safe is open-air and indoor skydiving?

Safety is a big concern in a vertical wind tunnel design. Skydiver safety involves procedures that have to be followed by the skydiver and addressed by the instructor to avoid accidents. Skydivers do not have to be worried about falling, jumping or having a fear of heights because they start flying only one foot above the ground. Their first flight is accompanied by a trained instructor holding the skydiver’s arm. Depending on the skydiver’s comfort, the airflow level may be increased; it means the skydiver would be able to go higher inside the flight chamber and challenge himself with different movements, still keeping a high level of safety.

How do indoor and outdoor skydiving compare?

Indoor skydiving is the safest way to get feelings similar to jumping out of a plane from an altitude of 10,000 feet. It has made getting flying experience accessible to a much broader public. Tunnels also allow pro flyers to focus on flying skills in a smaller area and in a controlled environment. One minute of wind tunnel flight is equivalent to one parachute jump. It has been a breakthrough addition to the development and future of skydiving sport. Individuals and teams can now train for skydiving competitions at a fraction of the cost and independently on the season, unlike real skydiving.

What is other skydiving simulating options?

PARASIM: an interactive training simulator that enables parachute jumpers to hone their skills and plan missions on the ground before they take to the air. Combining 3-D virtual reality technology with validated parachute dynamics and realistic controls, it simulates what jumpers see and experience” PARASIM have used as the standard procedure for aircrew and paratrooper training. This is a virtual reality parachute training simulator. Recreating the experience of a real jump without air flow.
Source

Mall Skydiving Simulators: A virtual reality simulator providing flying sensations, which involves an arcade type of wingsuit mechanism. It involves the whole body in the process of the virtual reality experience.

Mobile Skydiving Simulators: Or in other words, called portable skydiving simulators. Self-contain designed mobile systems for fast installation. There are fully mobile or semi-stationary models and assembly time usually takes just a couple hours. The structure is mounted on a mobile trailer and powered by a diesel engine.

Is there an age limitation for skydiving simulation?

The minimum recommended age is 4 years, and there is no upper limit. There are records of people flying well over the age of 100 years.

Can I rent an open-air (outdoor) wind tunnel?

YES. Open-air Aerodium powered models are in great demand for different performances, shows, and brand promotions activities.

How much does the construction of a vertical wind tunnel cost?

Firstly, it depends on the type and size of the tunnel. It can be open-air or indoors.  Size of the tunnel varies from 2.1 m to 5.2 m in diameter. It also depends on the location and the individual details on the whole building. Estimated total costs of a vertical wind tunnel machine vary from 0.5 to 1.7 million EUR for compact class models.

How much does it cost to start an indoor skydiving business?

Typically to open a project most recirculating tunnel projects require an investment of 6.2-10 million EUR. The cost of the machine is included in these figures. For reference – the most compact Aerodium self-containing recirculating tunnel model costs are only 2.52 million EUR.

What is the loudness of open-air vertical wind tunnels?

While there is a common belief that outdoor tunnels are loud, as a matter of fact, the sound generated by modern models is within the normal range for installation in residential areas. Generally, the sound of an outdoor tunnel does not exceed 65-75 dBA in the spectator area, depending on the model.

Why are permanent installations more expensive than open-air?

Classic permanent installations require large-scale building constructions, often involving excavations to accommodate return air chambers. Everything together makes a rather massive construction with high costs. In contrast, open-air wind tunnels do not need a foundation and can be placed on any even surface, such as a parking lot.

What is the flight zone size?

The size of a tunnel is measured most commonly by the diameter of the flight chamber. The larger the diameter, the more people can fly simultaneously. The most common size is 14 ft (4.3 m), which is required by pro skydivers and for competitions. However, recently smaller sized tunnels are becoming increasingly popular, as they are more efficient for training beginners and more affordable for the general public.

What wind flow speed can the tunnels reach?

First-time flyers fly in the belly-to-earth position, which requires the slowest airspeed of any position. This means that even the slowest wind tunnels are able to accommodate for the main indoor skydiving market. Modern facilities operate at high speeds to support the needs of skydivers and pro-flyers, which enjoy having speeds of roughly 170 mph (270 km/h).

How long does it take to build a wind tunnel facility?

The building time of a wind tunnel facility strongly depends on the exact local conditions, the duration of required approval procedures, and the issuing of permits. If all conditions are met, it is possible to build a wind tunnel in less than 6 months.

Franchise or outright ownership?

You have a choice between both – franchising and outright ownership. With outright ownership, you have more freedom to operate the business as you wish. The downside is that it will require a much deeper involvement and building your own brand. In the franchise option, you would get a full support package and the renowned Aerodium branding, which both will facilitate running the business.

How much personnel do I need to operate a wind tunnel facility?

The number of personnel depends on the tunnel size and the utilization capacity ratio. It usually requires a personnel of 3 employees.

How is the maintenance and warranty of a vertical wind tunnel assured?

The provided warranty and maintenance service and its scope is an integral part of the signed agreement and differs from model to model. Aerodium employs a team of highly qualified engineers, who are able to come and fix any issues on the client’s premises.

Can I operate the vertical wind tunnel all year round?

Closed recirculating vertical wind tunnel systems can be operated all year round and are independent of the weather. Open-air model operation, however, is limited by weather conditions: cold, wind, snow and rain, which introduces seasonality.

Who can fly in a vertical wind tunnel?

Vertical wind tunnels were developed for the entertainment industry, professional skydiving, and military education and simulation.
For the entertainment operations we recommend the following criteria:
– customers should have a decent physical condition and fitness level
– first-time flyers should be aged 4 years and above
– pregnancy, shoulders, back and spinal disc pain or frailty, as well as alcohol and drug abuse, forbid participation in indoor skydiving.

Is indoor skydiving safe?

Indoor skydiving is operated in a controlled setting that provides a safe experience for everyone. With any activity, there will always be potential risks involved. However, because all the variables are controlled, the risk of injury is minimal.

Is there a weight limit?

Weight limits are set in place for the safety of the flyer and the instructor, usually ranging from 110kg to 140kg, and are different in each facility. The flight instructor’s main job is to keep everyone safe, which at times, could require spotting and catching.
Wind speeds are manually controlled by each facility. Therefore, there is no weight minimum. Smaller flyers are not in danger of receiving too much wind for their body size.

Are there any health restrictions?

Flyers should be in decent physical shape to fly. There will be a significant amount of wind pressure on your shoulders, participants with weak shoulders or prior shoulder dislocations are recommended not to fly. Your body will be in an arched position with your hips forwards. If you have back issues that prevent this body position you should avoid flying. Any other serious health issues should be discussed with a physician prior to flying.

What should I wear?

Jumpsuits will be worn over your street clothing. Comfortable, non-restrictive clothing should be worn beneath with secure, lace-up shoes that cover your toes. Flyers with long hair should tie it together.

How long do we fly?

Flight time per person will vary from location to location. Most tunnels offer first-time flight packages ranging from 2 to 3 minutes per person.

Are 2 minutes of flight time long enough?

Traditional free fall time for a real skydive is roughly 60 seconds long. Flight packages normally begin with 2 minutes of flight time and go up from there. For those in average or above average physical shape, more flight time will make for a better experience. Like any other sport, the more you fly, the more you can endure.

How long does the whole experience take?

The time it takes for the entire experience will vary based on a number of factors, including the day of the week, time of the day, the number of people in your group. A safe bet is to plan a full two hours for your entire group’s experience.

Why does it take two hours for only a few minutes of flight time?

Indoor skydiving can be dangerous without proper training. Each location will include a safety and training briefing before your flight. This orientation will explain the proper body position, and how to communicate with the instructor once you are in the wind tunnel. There is time allotted to get suited up in all the necessary equipment, and afterwards, you will rotate with other flyers who have also purchased flying time.

Is there an instructor with us the whole time?

There will always be an instructor inside the flight chamber for safety purposes. Once you become an experienced flyer and are able to perform movements safely on your own, you will be given more freedom. Until you reach professional status, there will always be an instructor in the door for spotting purposes.

Can I do flips and tricks in air?

In time you can learn how to do flips and tricks on your own. For the first time, you will remain in a belly to earth body position. If you are doing well on your own, some instructors may assist you in certain maneuvers, however, you will not have the control your first time to safely perform advanced tricks and flips.

How high do we fly?

First-time flight experiences are typically made within arms reach of the instructor. This will allow them to communicate with you, ensure safety, and teach you how to move your body in the proper position. In an open tunnel, the distance can reach 5-6 meters, but in indoor tunnels, it depends on their height.