A vertical wind tunnel or wind tunnel for short is a place you can visit to experience human flight in an exciting, safe and professionally operated environment. A wind tunnel creates a stream of air moving upwards so fast that it can support your entire weight, lifting you off the ground and allowing you to fly. The sensation is very similar to that created by freefall skydiving, only without the need for any specialised equipment of your own, the plane ride and without incredible views of sky and earth. Tunnel flying and skydiving are not the same but there are similarities that can be exploited by would-be skydivers who want to refine their skills.
The airflow created by a wind tunnel is very similar to that you will experience in freefall. In freefall the air is relatively still and you fall through it at high speed, in a wind tunnel you are relatively still and the air passes around you at high speed. In terms of “experience” the result is very similar, in the wind tunnel you are suspended in a column of air, in freefall the sensation is the same only that you are falling through the column of air. In either case, relative to you, air is rushing past quickly and this means a lot of the skills required to manoeuvre yourself in the air are the same.
The opportunity to experience this indoors allows skydivers of all skill levels to train for freefall in an accessible, safe indoor environment. The body positions required to fly in the wind tunnel are almost exactly the same as those in skydiving - you can therefore learn stability at the wind tunnel and transfer these skills in to the air. Many of the world's top skydiving teams partially train in the wind tunnel and then transfer those skills in to the sky.
The wind tunnel is not essential for AFF. A majority of skydivers never trained in a wind tunnel prior to making their first skydive, it is definitely not required to learn to skydive. Remember a skydive comprises many different elements, including getting “geared up”, a plane ride, freefall, parachute ride and landing - the wind tunnel can only simulate the freefall aspect of your skydive. However, the wind tunnel can in many circumstances provide extra confidence to new skydivers and increase the ease of progression through AFF. When you book your AFF course we will discuss the use of the wind tunnel with you and whether not it's appropriate.
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