Published: December 12, 2017
Skydiving vs. Indoor Skydiving - Which is Better?
We're pretty sure we felt the earth shake the first time we heard someone use--in absolute earnest--the phrase "outdoor skydiving."
I mean: Really?!
But we digress.
We like to think that using the term "Indoor Skydiving" to describe the experience in the vertical wind tunnel is a touch unfair. We understand how it happened, of course. The wind tunnel has come into its own as The non-plane-involving training ground for the bodyflight skills that move the skydiving world. The windytube's position as a tool to advance skills in the sport can hardly be argued. That said: It's a totally different animal, and it's not skydiving. Flying in the wind tunnel remains a unique sport with a unique pantheon of practitioners, competitions, disciplines, politics, and benefits.
Neither sport is better. Neither sport is worse. They're on equal footing, for most of us, tending one way or another on the scale due to proximity and personal preference. We absolutely, one-hundred-percent suggest that you try both, and here's why.
Parachutes are super-duper fun. There are no parachutes in the wind tunnel.
Flying in the "indoor skydiving" wind tunnel--whether you're doin' it for fun, for training or for a combination of the two--puts your body in the airflow and requires that you use your body's surfaces in a dynamic, acrobatic way to maneuver in the space. If you love the idea of learning how to "fly" your human form but don't like the idea of wearing a parachute (or want a parachute-free introduction to bodyflight before you introduce that element later), you're going to love flying in the tunnel.
That said: Flying a parachute is a delight all its own.
Flying a parachute lets you experience the world in a 3D way you can't even imagine. It's an exercise in flow state; it's zoomy but peaceful; it's fighter-plane exciting but yoga-studio zen. It even sounds amazing--whooshy and whistly and crinkly and harmonic. You owe it to yourself to experience a parachute. You'll be stoked you did.
Tunnel flying requires less commitment--but also less reward.
The wind tunnel requires just a few minutes of briefing before you're in the airflow and doin' your thing. It's easy. It also doesn't tend to inspire the jumping-up-and-down, high-fiving-everybody, dancing-around-the-parking-lot, calling-your-mom-to-freak-out-with-ecstatic-joy kinda vibe that a skydive brings to bear.
For all practical purposes, both sports are simply better together.
Neither skydiving nor "indoor skydiving" wins the "better sport" medal. If you visit any vertical wind tunnel facility, you'll be sure to meet a bevy of experienced solo skydivers who will trip over themselves to share precisely that wisdom with you.
Here's the moral of the story: Use the tunnel as a tool! If you're afraid of heights, the wind tunnel is a reliable way to try out how skydiving feels beforehand and get yourself reasonably comfortable with at least the freefall part of the process. That makes it useful: If you do, you'll almost certainly be less overwhelmed when you jump out of a plane for the first time. Think of it as part of your education, then add on the real deal.
I highly recommend them.
» Ken K.