Yes, in the United States there is a weight limit for indoor skydiving, however, it tends to vary from tunnel to tunnel. Note that the average weight limit for indoor Skydiving in the United States is around 250 lbs/113 kg. The limit could also depend on the height and how physically in-shape the individual is. The maximum age limit is more defined by how physically fit and injury free the person is.
Have it in mind that all these restrictions are there for the safety of jumpers, and should be respected if you wish to have a safe flight. It is imperative as someone looking to use a wind tunnel to educate yourself with the safety restrictions at your local wind tunnel prior to booking.
Note that as a beginner flyer, you are expected to fly lying flat on your belly. This means that the front surface of your body will support your weight. Your shoulders experience the most strain when flying. In the United States, almost all tunnel locations will have a warning stating that if you have had a past shoulder dislocation, it is advisable that you do not fly. Any other past injuries that may be re -injured by slightly bumping or twisting of your body could also be problematic.
On the other hand, if you have are paralyzed or an amputee, you shouldn’t be deterred. There have been many participants with physical difficulties who have experienced the joys of flying. As long as it is deemed safe for all parties involved, you can fly.
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What is Indoor Skydiving?
Indoor skydiving is simply the act of flying your body on a column of wind in a vertical wind tunnel. It is a safe and fun experience for all ages. Improvements in technology are making flying even more accessible and enjoyable. Presently, reports have it there are over 60 wind tunnels across the globe, with over 35 new facilities opening in the next two years.
The beauty of indoor skydiving is being able to have a flight experience just like normal skydiving, without the commitment. So instead of jumping from an airplane you simply lean forward into the wind from a door on the side of the flight chamber and immediately begin to fly.
Note that every single flyer is given hands on instruction, the necessary equipment, and constant assistance from a qualified and rated instructor. The instructor’s primary aim is to provide a fun and safe flight experience. A controller operates the wind tunnel, making sure the wind speed is appropriate for each flyer.
Just unlike an amusement park ride, you are entirely in control when flying in the wind tunnel. However, your instructor will work with you by showing you how to control your body in the wind. This will provide you with an intellectual, skill based experience which is not only extremely fun but also challenging and rewarding.
How to Use a Wind Tunnel or Skydive Indoors
Indoor skydiving is more or less about learning to control your body in the air flow. Note that by maintaining an arched body position and using your arms and legs for control, you can perform turns, move forward, backward, up and down. More advanced indoor skydiving involves flying with other people and at orientations other than belly to earth. However, here is how to indoor Skydive in the United States.
Entering the wind tunnel
Note that the very first step to becoming a fulfilled indoor skydiver is learning how to enter the wind tunnel. The wind tunnel is a skydiving simulator which pushes air upwards, creating the same conditions you would find in freefall if you’d jumped from an airplane.
To enter you will be asked by your instructor to fold your arms across your body and simply lower yourself forwards through the door – your instructor will support you the first few times but eventually, you will be confident enough to lower yourself down on your own. You are advised not to jump into the wind tunnel. This is because your body shape and position will affect how you move in the air and ‘jumping’ in could cause you to become out of control once in the air flow.
Being comfortable in the air flow
After entering the wind tunnel, the next is to become comfortable with your body in the air flow. To achieve a stable position, you will arch your body by pushing forward at the hips. Note that this is something you can try at home; simply lie on the floor and push your hips forward, raising your head and your feet. The idea is similar to that of a shuttlecock in badminton – creating that centre of mass at your core gives you stability while allowing your arms and legs to be free to help you move.
Indeed, the first few minutes in the wind tunnel may be utilized to get used to the body position and the feeling of pressure that the air flow puts on your body. Howbeit, the wind speed will be relatively low, meaning you will be flying close to the net and your instructor can easily give you corrective signals to help you perfect your position before moving on.
Turning in the wind tunnel
Have it in mind that the basic principles of body flight are rooted in aerodynamics. The idea is that we are able to affect our movements by displacing the air pressure as it hits our body, resulting in the ability to, amongst other things, turn.
Therefore, to turn, you will have to start with the stable arched body position – this should be maintained throughout. To make a turn, you will have to dip the shoulder and arm slightly on the side you want to turn with hands pointing forward. So to turn right, you’d dip your right arm.
As long as you maintain your arched body position and your arms and legs stay symmetrical, you will perform a stable turn. More experienced indoor skydivers will use a combination of arms, legs and chest to turn and adopt a slightly different position, but this will all be covered as you progress.
Forward and backwards
Just like with air displacement principles, you can move yourself backwards and forwards in the air by simply changing the position of your arms and legs. Note that to go forwards; you will push your legs into a straighter position. This tips your body up slightly and pushes you forwards, head first.
While to go backwards, you will bring your feet closer to your buttocks and push your arms forward slightly. However, as you become faster at forwards and backwards movements, you will learn to stop them using the opposite input – so legs out to go forward and legs in and arms out to stop that.
Fast and slow fall
Note that the final step to starting as an indoor skydiver is to learn to change your fall rate, which will help you to, relatively speaking, fly up and down in the wind tunnel (of course, in the sky, this effect is simply increasing and decreasing the rate of descent).
To increase your fall rate (and go ‘down’), you will have to focus on that stable arched position you learned at the beginning, pushing forward more with your hips. You will also bring your arms in a little toward your body, thus decreasing your surface area and allowing you to fall faster.
While to decrease your fall rate is the opposite; rather than pushing forwards with the hips, you will relax them and think instead about cupping the air with your chest and using your arms and legs to make yourself as big as possible. This will slow you down and mean you can fly ‘up’.
Wind Tunnel Skydiving is a transformative experience. You are actually, truly flying. And there are going to be a lot of memorable pictures of this incredible experience. You are going to frame these moments and cherish them. So, keep that smile on.