Well, yes … and, no … and, sort of! Not to be overly academic, but a little physics lesson is in store to help explain whether you really feel weightless in indoor skydiving.
By definition, gravity is the force of mutual attraction between objects with mass or energy. In our case: sweet planet Earth and us. And, technically speaking, weight is a measurement of the gravitational force acting on an object.
So to feel weightless, you would have to feel as if you had no “weight” aka no gravitational pull.
Still with me? Great! Let’s keep going!
Gravity is referred to as an “action-at-a-distance force” – a force that does not require two interacting objects to make physical contact. This is different from “contact force” which results from the contact of two interacting objects, like you sitting in a chair experiencing the force of Earth’s gravitational field pulling you down and the force of the chair pushing you upward.
In every instance, the experience we describe as weightlessness is not really a time in which there is no gravitational force, instead it’s a lack of a contact force.
Even astronauts on the International Space Station are not truly experiencing weightlessness. Rather, they feel weightless because there is no external contact force pushing or pulling upon their body. Even in orbit, they are still under the influence of gravity – it’s what allows them to stay in orbit in the first place! However, because the tangential velocity of the space station equals the pull of gravity, they float and feel weightless because of the lack of push or pull against their bodies.
In indoor skydiving, you are floating atop a column of air. Though gentle, this is an example of a contact force that allows you to feel supported. With indoor skydiving, you feel buoyant much as you would in a swimming pool.
So, do you feel weightless in indoor skydiving? Well, yes, you could describe the experience by saying you feel weightless in indoor skydiving, but it wouldn’t be the same as the feeling experienced by astronauts in orbit.
While there is no escaping the immutable force of gravity, the feeling of flying in the wind tunnel is about as close to “zero gravity” as we Earthlings can get.
There are few opportunities to experience the nearly weightless buoyancy that indoor skydiving enables. Unlike on a roller coaster, where there is a stomach-churning absence of contact force, in indoor skydiving, you feel a bit more in control. The experience of entering the tunnel and feel supported by the wind, relatively untroubled by the force of gravity drawing you downward, is a unique sensation.
Plus, it’s a ton of fun!
One of the appeals of indoor skydiving is the ability to defy gravity and experience true body flight. Rather than floating about a bit aimlessly as the astronauts must do, in the indoor wind tunnel, you can control airflow with your body to change pitch and surface area in order to maneuver around. With time and practice, you can even experiment with flying in different axes and degrees of dynamic movement!
While gravity is always with us, with indoor skydiving you don’t feel the effects quite as strongly as you do on the ground. When you trip while walking along the sidewalk, you’re likely to go down – potentially even experiencing a bit of a lurching sensation as you do. In indoor skydiving, you feel free to soar without the worry of hitting the ground below.
Want to feel almost weightless? Check out the experience with Paraclete XP today!