The short answer is yes. Indoor skydiving can dramatically increase your freefall skills. After all, the tunnel provides industrial-strength training–far more than the 60 seconds you’ll log for one skydive.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind by now that the wind tunnel is a useful tool for learning how to fly your body in freefall, and that it presents a world-class training tool for skydivers of every level. The wind tunnel hones the flying skills of every type of jumper–from beginner skydivers straight on up to the world’s top skydiving teams–allowing groups and individuals to practice the complicated moves that they’ll soon go on to perform in the sky.
It doesn’t take long to notice, however, that the transition from hucking those moves in the tunnel to performing them in freefall can be a–well–interesting ride. Here, we’re going to share some of the lessons that we’ve learned over the many years we’ve been watching from coaching this stuff. These have helped our beloved flyers make the most efficient use the use of our big, beautiful tunnel–and have emerged as unequivocally better skydivers.
The big difference between skydiving and its indoor counterpart is, of course, time. Any skydiver will tell you that the path to greatness is just to spend more time in freefall; outdoors, we only have around 60 seconds (depending on our exit height, axis of flight, and our deployment altitude) to work on our freefall skills, while the tunnel has no such constraint. You could theoretically just hop into the tunnel and keep going until your bank account runs completely dry. (You wouldn’t be the first.)
The obvious benefit of the “windytube” is that flyers enjoy much, much more working time in the airflow to make adjustments and improvements. And, as opposed to skydiving, flyers don’t have to mess around with landings and packing. Because your time at the tunnel is so condensed, you can expect to experience a much faster progression indoors than you would if you were working on the same skills in the jumping-out-of-a-plane context.
The thing to watch out for here? Biting off more than you can chew. The tendency is to buy as much time as you can and fly it out as quickly as possible; however, we’re here to tell you that’s a terrible idea. You’ll be sore, cranky and exhausted before you know it, and you won’t squeeze the true benefit from every second. We advise pacing yourself. If you take a moderate approach and limit your flying at the start to 30-45 minutes, you can be assured that all of that time will be learning time, not zombie time.
The other important part of improving your skydiving skills through tunnel flying is to make sure you have the right team around you. Get a coach! One-on-one–or camp-style–coaching is the tried and true way to really get better at skydiving in the wind-tunnel context. Luckily, we have loads of top-shelf coaches to coax the very best performance from your eager-beaver self.
As you go forward on your journey, remember that the tunnel isn’t an “elevator” to the top of the skydiving competition podium that we use to bypass the “stairs” of traditional skydiving. Tunnel will only improve the freefall component of your game. The wind tunnel cannot simulate exit, tracking away from a group or–y’know–the canopy skills.
What are you waiting for? At the end of the day, the only way to improve your skydiving skills in the wind tunnel is to get into the wind tunnel. You’ll soon see how wacky-effective it is. We’re waiting for you to join us out here!
My wife and I celebrated our 34th Anniversary by going Indoor Skydiving at ParacleteXP in Raeford, NC. We are in our 60's and this activity was safe, fun, and exciting. Dalton was our flight instructor and we recommend that you ask for him by name: He will guide you and have a great time with you in the wind tunnel.