Over time and with some good old trial-and-error, humans have got pretty good at controlling their bodies while falling through the air. For both skydiving (where you descend rapidly from a plane) and tunnel flying (where the air moves at speed through a static chamber with you in it), the first thing you need to understand is how to arch. The first orientation in which we learn to fly is on our belly in a skydiving arch, as this is the safest and most controllable position to start from. With just a little bit of training, practically anyone can do this position on their first go in the tunnel to experience the exhilarating and unique sensation of freefall without being strapped to another person or have anyone holding on to you. Here are a few skydiving arch tips and exercises to help you find the perfect position:
At a basic level, the aerodynamics of body flight are very simple and the most common item used to describe how it works is a shuttlecock used for badminton. When a shuttlecock is traveling through the air the round rubber base part always wants to go faster than the bigger, lighter feathers part. The feather part is causing drag. When picturing a person arching on their belly – think of the side view of a shuttlecock dropping down to the floor. The hips of the person are the equivalent of the rubber base – the lowest part of the whole, trying to go faster than the rest. The arms and legs of the person are the feathers part – causing drag and trying to go slower than the rest. The result is stability.
Everybody is a little bit different depending on your size shape age etc, but the same general rules apply to all:
Keep Your Chin Up: Everything in your body is connected, so getting one part right helps get the others right also. Your hips are connected to your head by your spine. Keeping your chin up immediately helps you to bend your spine in the correct direction without thinking too much about it. It has the added advantage of helping you to see what is around you and ensure that your face will show up in the pictures!
Keep Your Hips Down: For a good skydiving arch position, you need to be arching from your hips and not from your chest. If you are not familiar with the position your body might be telling you to arch from your chest which has the effect of causing you to stick your bum in the air and make you fly in a much flatter and less stable shape.
Relax: Every now and then someone finds the perfect position straight away, but chances are you will need to make a couple of adjustments to arrive at a nice stable skydiving arch. If your muscles are tense then reacting to the signals from your instructor will be more difficult than if you remain relaxed. Tension throughout your body means that small movements create bigger effects which can lead to a sensation of being less in control than you might wish.
Stretch Out: You don’t have to be an Olympic gymnast to fly in the tunnel, but preparing yourself with a few stretches will both help you to find the body position and (most importantly) to relax when you get in for the first time.
Practice a Bit: Having a go before you enter the flight chamber can help a great deal. If you are already at the wind tunnel you can use the padded bench, but the floor at home will also serve. It can feel like hard work to practice without the wind holding you up, but rest assured it feels much more comfortable and natural when you are doing it for real!
Keep It Simple: Thinking too much about what you are doing with every little part of your body means you might be overcomplicating things to the point of distraction from what matters the most. At the very beginning, don’t worry about your fingers and toes are doing. Just remember the basics of keeping your chin up and your hips down. That will set you up correctly for everything else to come!
So there you go! Follow these simple tips and exercises to give yourself a head start on how to get things right when you first enter the tunnel – and with just a few simple things to remember you are off to the races!
And when you’re ready, we’ll be right here, waiting for you to call us to schedule your indoor skydiving experience!