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Did You Know...

... that each drop zone should have a wind tunnel?

Blue Skies Mag: TURNING POINTS in January
posted Jan 18th, 2017 - It's a good thing that the young BSM editor ladies, Kolla and Lara, have much more creative minds than I have. I am usually set on collecting data (scores, team and event information etc.) and deliver it to the audience, with a few words attached. They come up on a regular basis with topics that should be covered, and I use their, and Skygod's, inspirational ideas to move into areas that are usually not on my daily agenda. Thank you for that.

This time, my thoughts don't really have to wander that far off when they asked me and their BSM audience what every drop zone should have, next to a jump plane and a person to fly it. Huh, the answer to that question came easier to me than any other ones in the past. Of course, each drop zone should have a wind tunnel.

I just checked the Sun Path Products NSL News updates of the past week, and I could not believe my own eyes: the last eight stories consecutively covered indoor events. OK, not all of them focused only on wind tunnel activities. I am still running the National Skydiving League and the emphasis is on "skydiving." There is that wonderful bridge that connects wind tunnel flyers with jump planes - whether this has been the intention of the wind-tunnel operators or not.

iFLY SF Bay team at Indoor Cloud League event

TURNING POINTS: Dreaming: Drop Zone Tunnel Combo

It was the end of November when indoor coverage took over. The end of each month is usually the time when most of the Indoor Cloud League scores and videos come in and create a lot of footage and stories

Here is one story quickly, which is an impossible one: The Indoor Cloud League teams of iFLY Orlando (Florida Skydiving League) and iFLY SF Bay (Northern California Skydiving League) have posted scores and videos month by month throughout the whole year. They are now (at the end of November) separated by one single point. What's so special about that? The totals are 1338 - 1337 after 11 months...

It is also wintertime in many parts of the skydiving world, which in the past put many of us in hibernation for a while, possibly interrupted by a trip to Florida or Arizona, maybe Spain. Now there is no real winter break any longer, as indoor training and meets are available almost anywhere in the world. My own winter break has become history. Well, I am just kidding, as I live in Florida, where winter is the best time of the year.

DZ - Tunnel combo in Dubai
All right, so back to the topic. I don't know if Kolla and Lara were thinking of wind tunnels when they raised the January question. It only popped in my mind instantly since I spend at least half my flying time in a chamber, and the Sun Path Products NSL News indoor coverage keeps growing. What better thing can you imagine than a drop zone that has a wind tunnel right next door?

The indoor - outdoor combo is not extremely popular yet for DZ operators. Many of them still see wind tunnels as competition for their actual business. This is not the time to discuss this issue; I may come back to it later.

More importantly, obstacles are more on the other side. Wind tunnel investors are not highly motivated to build them at or near drop zones. They have a different clientele in mind for their business and they try to locate the new tunnels in highly populated areas to attract any human being to take a flight.

Planned DZ - Tunnel combo in Grozny
That makes complete sense and I don't blame them for their business plans, which do not include drop zones. However, they still count on skydivers eating the travel distance to get to the tunnels and use them for indoor training. And they are right, we do that...

However, there are a few drop zones with that dream combination: Dubai, Empuriabrava, Eloy, Perris. Paraclete is pretty close, with the Raeford drop zone only a few miles away, and Russia is building a brand-new combo from scratch in Grozny.

So it's not only a dream or a vision of mine that a drop zone should have a wind tunnel as a part of the facilities. It's been my dream and vision for a long time as DeLand, where I live, does not have that indoor - outdoor combo yet. I still cannot imagine a better situation, even if you live in Florida.

Weather hold at FAI World Meet Maubeuge 2008
We still have a lot of rain, especially in the summer, it can get very cold in the winter and there is always the wind factor, too. Imagine when the jump planes have to go into maintenance. There are many conditions when skydivers and drop zone operators have to go on a hold. That hardly ever happens to a wind tunnel.

I don't even want to get started about the incentive options and opportunities that the operator of an indoor - outdoor combo has to create an incredible playground for skydivers and potential customers - who are literally every human being.

Getting people to the wind tunnel that is located at a drop zone? Huh, piece of cake these days with all the marketing tools and experiences. Imagine the whuffos coming to the combo playground after seeing ads or hearing about it. They can fly right away and then watch DZ activities, which is always fun for them, in my observations. They may sign up for a tandem next, or not, and just come back for more tunnel flying. Imagine you also have a playground there for the kids. What a fun day for the whole family. All right, all right, I am getting carried away - which was the purpose this month, right, SkyGod...?

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