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What is Indoor Skydiving?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 23, 2024
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Indoor skydiving is interesting to many people who prefer to keep their feet planted firmly on the ground. A fear of heights or landing in a way that would cause injury keeps more than a few folks from trying the sport. Enter indoor skydiving, a means of getting the feel of floating through the air, without the inherent dangers of jumping from a plane.

Indoor skydiving uses what are called vertical wind tunnels. Wind speeds can be anywhere from 80-140 mph (128.75-225.31 kph). This provides ample draft to lift the body upward, just a few feet above the ground, or more accurately above the wind tunnel floor. These machines are used with great frequency by skydivers. They may help train people who want to try the sport out, and people perfecting the art of body flight or formation skydiving also employ them.

Popularity of this sport has grown, though it was first used in military applications. In 1964, Jack Tiffany earned recognition as the first person to try out a vertical wind tunnel. In the late 1970s, a Canadian company, Aerodium, built the first privately owned tunnel. Interest in using tunnels for fun and the practice of indoor skydiving became intense especially after their use in the 2006 Winter Olympics, where they were featured as part of the closing ceremony. More popularity has followed, especially with a model challenge in the reality show, America’s Next Top Model, where one challenge to the contestants was to pose pretty while floating in a wind tunnel.

There are two types of vertical wind tunnels that may be used for indoor skydiving. Some are stationary, and exist inside a large building. Others are mobile, and may be used at various events. Before you get to float, or withstand the pressure of strong updrafts, you have to undergo training if you’ve never tried the sport before. People of virtually all ages and fitness levels can try indoor skydiving, and the sport as entertainment does draw many who are afraid of heights or actual skydiving. Sometimes people also use indoor skydiving as a means of preparing for actual skydiving.

Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Sports n' Hobbies contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By wander — On Jul 18, 2011

Has anyone ever actually tried indoor skydiving? Was it exciting and did you find that the speed of the air caused any difficulties with your breathing?

I would love to try indoor skydiving but am a bit worried that with my asthma that it may make it difficult for me to handle the wind speeds that would be blowing in my face.

Also, as far as preparation goes, how many lessons do you need before you can start indoor skydiving by yourself?

I imagine it takes a bit to learn how to position your body and to understand what to do when it comes time to get back to the ground safely.

By Mae82 — On Jul 18, 2011

I have always wanted to try straight skydiving but have always been scared of the idea of jumping out of a plane. While I am sure the sensation of free falling for a while is amazing I would just worry it would also give me a panic attack.

Indoor skydiving sounds like a great alternative for those like me that are a bit to nervous to take a real plunge. I love the idea of being suspended in a wind tunnel a few inches off the ground. Even if the motor failed you wouldn't have very far to fall. Going splat a few inches seems a lot more reassuring than taking a chance from 10,000 feet.

By SZapper — On Jul 18, 2011

@sunnySkys - I hope you can convince your sister to try indoor skydiving as an alternative to jumping out of a plane! I know it's supposed to be fun but I share your hesitation.

I think it's great when outdoor sports can be turned into indoor sports. I'm thinking of indoor rock climbing too. The weather isn't always good and some people don't have access to a plane to jump out of or a wall of rock to climb. Indoor sports can be a good alternative, I think.

By sunnySkys — On Jul 17, 2011

I'm not a very adventurous sort, but I think I could handle indoor skydiving. I'm actually really glad I stumbled on this article, because my sister has been talking about trying skydiving. I don't want her to it! I think skydiving is too dangerous.

But, indoor skydiving sounds safe enough. Maybe I can talk my sister into doing that instead. I would be more than willing to go with her!

By oasis11 — On Jul 17, 2011

@Subway11 - I agree with you, and I thought that the purpose of sky diving was not only the thrill of flying through the air, but also the scenic beauty of the sky.

I guess it is safer than jumping out of a plane, but I think that the two experiences must be very different. I know that indoor skydiving locations are popping up everywhere so I am sure there is a level of popularity to the sport.

For me, the rollercoaster is enough adventure, but I could see how adventurous people would probably love the indoor sky diving experience.

By subway11 — On Jul 16, 2011

I have to say that I am afraid of heights and I don’t think that I could do indoor sky diving. It does make me feel better that the apparatus is more controlled and I would be landing indoors, but you are still going at really fast speeds up in the air.

It would make me a little crazy because I am not adventurous at all. If there was ever a documented accident or death doing this sort of thing, I would always have it in the back of my mind which is why I could never do an indoor skydiving experience.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Sports n' Hobbies contributor, Tricia...
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