Skydiving Without A Sky

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Most people think that skydiving can only be done outdoors in the sky. However, with the development of technology, there is now an indoor rendition of the sport, which is done through vertical wind tunnels.

What Is A Vertical Wind Tunnel?

Vertical wind tunnels (VWT) are wind tunnels that blows up air in a column. This is actually a recreational wind tunnel that is most of the time advertised as "bodyflight" or "indoor skydiving". It's also a training tool that most skydivers use.

These wind tunnels can give people the ability to fly on air without needing parachutes or planes, simply by the force of wind that's generated vertically. The wind inside these tunnels generally moves upward at 120 mph, which is also a falling human body's terminal velocity, although it can vary from one person to another.

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VWT's are most of the time called 'indoor skydiving' because of its popularity with skydivers that say the sensation they get is very similar to the real thing. As the person 'floats' in midair inside the wind tunnel, this is termed as 'bodyflight'.

Bodyflight

Bodyflight is said to be the art of 'flying your body' but in a controlled method. Control would include rolls, fall rate control, turns, lateral movement and some other acrobatic stunts in mid-air. Knowing bodyflight skills help skydivers go closer to each other while freefalling, so that they can link for formation skydiving, and then fly away from each other again until they reach a safe distance so that they can open their parachutes.

A lot of bodyflight skills could be learned and practiced from VWTs. Most skydivers use this as practice equipment so that they can be better in controlling their bodies while falling from the sky.

Bodyflight can be done through decreasing/increasing your body drag, by using your legs and arms as rudders for motion control. Additionally, other techniques used similar by airplanes are used.

Types Of Vertical Wind Tunnels

Basically, there are 2 main types of VWTs, namely: outdoor and indoor. The outdoor type can be either portable or stationary. The portable ones are the types that are often used for movie productions, demonstrations and are usually rented for big events like state fairs and conventions.

Portable units give a dramatic effect for the spectators and the flying person, since there are no walls bounding the flight area. This kind of wind tunnel gives you the opportunity to fly with a partial or full sky/outdoor view. Some outdoor units can also have nettings around or walls so as to keep beginners from flying out the tunnel boundaries.

For the indoor types, you also have to sub categories, namely: re-circulating and non-re-circulating. Non-re-circulating wind tunnels generally suck air via inlets found in the building's bottom portion. Then the air would go up the bodyflight area, and exit through the top portion of the building. However, the re-circulating type would create an aerodynamic loop that has turning vanes, which are similar to scientific wind tunnels, but has a vertical loop and a bodyflight chamber inside the vertical portion of the loop.

Re-circulating tunnels are usually used in places where the climate is too cold for non-re-circulating types. Indoor types usually have a smoother and controlled airflow than outdoor types. They also have more control on temperature. Thus, they can be operated year-round in places with cold climate.

By: Jan Hartman

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