Skydiving simulators have been growing in popularity for many years, with families, thrill seekers and trainee skydivers all using them around the world. We are making history by bringing the first outdoor skydiving simulator to Spain, but before we do, we wanted to give you a run down of how it all began!
In the 19th century wind tunnels started to be used for aerodynamic research. These were horizontal and worked well for testing airflow over a car, or an aeroplane when it was flying, but had its limitations. To overcome these NASA developed the first vertical wind tunnel in 1940. The race was on to develop faster, stronger tunnels, with the next one opening in Russia in 1941. But none of these could get a person into the air and it wasn’t until 1964 that the first person flew in a wind tunnel.
This took place at the Wright-Patterson wind tunnel in the US as part of the Apollo space program. Jack Tiffany who was testing parachutes on the tunnel decided to let off a little steam after a long day by trying to fly without a parachute and it worked!
This planted the seed for the inventor Jean St-Germain, who started work on the first wind tunnel designed specifically to allow people to fly in Canada in 1978. He made it for his kids to experience freefall safely and it was an instant hit, with people flocking to try out what he called the “Aerodium”. He later sold the design and franchising rights and the buyers created the Vegas Indoor Skydiving and Flyaway, then many more people designed and built different versions of the original.
Innovation came in 1997, when the first modern wall-to-wall wind tunnel was patented by SkyVenture. This design used multiple propellers and enclosed the chamber to improve airflow and was the first of its kind to open in Orlando in 1999.
SkyVenture was the first place where skydivers started to use the technology to quickly and easily learn new skills and improve their techniques. This quickly took off, pushing designers to create stronger, faster tunnels to allow freeflying in all climates.
Although skydivers were the first to see the potential of vertical wind tunnels, the boom really began when it entered into the public consciousness as entertainment. People realised that it was fun, safe and a great experience for people of all ages and indoor wind tunnels opened up all over the world.
Now, we’re also seeing “Proflyers” who never use their skills to skydive for real, but instead push themselves to be better and do more in the tunnels. This is pushing the whole industry and creating competitions and world championships where teams and individuals perform incredible stunts, tricks and routines.
There are indoor and outdoor versions, many of which are being used in the film and television industry to perform stunts and make it easier and cheaper to film skydiving sequences. The Fly4Real team started using the wind tunnels through their film and TV stunt work, culminating in training and shooting with Tom Cruise on the last Mission Impossible movie.
We’re very excited to be able to bring this wind tunnel over to Spain this spring and open Spain’s first outdoor wind tunnel. We believe that the tourists and residents of Andalucia will love the experience and we can’t wait to see the reaction. Follow us on Facebook to keep updated with all our news and developments and come and be part of the skydiving simulator’s exciting history.
Read more about skydiving simulators and their history on indoorskydivingsource