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Wind Tunnel
Skydive Kent
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Nigel Rowlan

The Vertical Wind Tunnel and Skydiving

May 21, 2006
Practising a 3 way drill dive in the Perris tunnel
 Practising a 3 way drill dive in the Perris tunnel 

What is a vertical wind tunnel?

A wind tunnel is a special chamber for humans - clean air is blasted upwards through the skydiving part of the chamber to form a perfect wind at a constant speed of 120mph. Skydivers use wind tunnels to practice and improve their freefall skills. Physics is exactly the same as a skydiver freefalling in the atmosphere, but without the scary bit.

Chris Shaw explains...

Even though skydiving is relatively new as far as sports go, it is evolving in new ways all the time. One recent development has been the use of indoor Vertical Wind Tunnels to simulate free fall skydiving. These purpose built devices have done two main things for skydiving...

Looking straight up, inside the Perris wind tunnel The first is to open up the whole free fall side of skydiving to the public at large. Almost anyone, young and old, can go to one of these centres and with just a few minutes briefing, they can be floating on a column of air rushing past them at 120mph under the constant and safe supervision of an instructor who is in the tunnel with them! They can feel what it is like to fly. They can experience the thrill of using their arms and legs to manoeuvre themselves in simulated “free fall”, just like skydivers or birds! All this without the worry of jumping out of a plane 2.5 miles high. Many first timers are using places like Bodyflight in Bedford and Airkix in Milton Keynes to experience this safe yet exhilarating thrill.

The second area that skydiving has benefited from with Vertical Wind Tunnels is to train experienced skydivers. The tunnels offer skilled skydivers the chance to practice all the manoeuvres they normally carry out in free fall, but in a tunnel where they can be in the air for 2.5 minutes at a time, rather than the usual minute of free fall. Their learning curve is much steeper and new techniques can be developed and learnt quickly, as experienced skydivers can debrief their last “indoor flight” then get back into the tunnel straight away to try it all over again. All competitive teams these days plan to use wind tunnels extensively as part of their training programmes. This area of skydiving is almost developing into a sport in its own right, with “skydiving” competitions now being run at the larger wind tunnels, where usual skydiving rules and judging are applied. The UK recently held the World Challenge indoor skydiving competition at Bodyflight in Bedford.

So, be it with a walk in first timer off the streets or the most competitive full time skydiving team in the world, the development and use of Vertical Wind Tunnels has an exciting future.

Practising a 4 way drill dive in the Perris tunnel
 Practising a 4 way drill dive in the Perris tunnel 
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