Forums: Skydiving: Wind Tunnels:
Tunnel (and skydiving) newbie looking for hints and locations.


Eule  (Student)

Jul 18, 2005, 2:07 AM
Post #1 of 8 (974 views)
Tunnel (and skydiving) newbie looking for hints and locations. Can't Post

Hello all!

I started AFF in June, never having skydived (from a plane or in a tunnel) before. Now I'm at 15 jumps,
but I've only had a couple of brief flings at level 4. To make a long story short, a big part of my problem is
body position and stability. I don't think the visual of "sky - horizon at 45 degree angle - ground -
horizon at 45 degree angle the other way - repeat" is a standard part of AFF. :) I had a suspicion that a
tunnel might help and after a couple of dives this weekend, my instructors said they thought some tunnel
time would be good for me.

So, now I'm looking for a tunnel. I have looked on the Web a bit and found where some of them are, but
I'm sure I haven't found all of them. My first criterion is that it be within a 2 day drive of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
To calibrate this distance, Perris and Orlando both meet this criterion. (Either one would be 2 12-hour
days of driving, so an 8 AM tunnel time the morning after I get there wouldn't work, but that afternoon
would be OK.) Put another way, this means that pretty much only Oregon, Washington, and the
Northeast states north of about Pennsylvania are out. Closer is always better, but I'm willing to drive a
little if I need to.

My other criteria are not as big to me as the distance one above. One is that it might be a little better if
the tunnel is at or near a dropzone. After I get some tunnel time, I might want to go to a dropzone to
see if I am really learning what I need to know. Another is that it'd be nice if there is a place to camp at or
near the tunnel. Since I'm driving, I can deal with dropzones/campsites that are a little way away from
the tunnel.

One of my instructors mentioned the tunnel in Perris, one in North Carolina, and one in Tennessee.
Looking around the Web, I think he was talking about L1 in Waynesville, NC and Flyaway in Pigeon
Forge, TN.

In addition to finding a place, I'm also wondering a bit about the procedures. I have read the info on
a couple of the Web sites, and I know I will be able to answer some of these questions once I pick a
tunnel and talk to them directly, but I'm curious. If there is a "tunnel FAQ" lurking somewhere, you
may be able to point me at it and ignore many of these questions. Are the tunnels usually booked
up a long time in advance, or is it relatively easy to book a date a week or so away? Assuming it is
possible, my timeframe for the tunnel visit is within the next month or so.

I understand that for what I'm doing, I will probably buy some chunk of time, and I will fly for 1 or 2
minutes at a time, then rest/wait for several minutes, then fly again. Does this usually continue until
I've got all the chunk in, or does it happen that I will fly maybe half the chunk and come back a few
hours later or the next day? (I'm pretty sure this also depends on exactly how big of a chunk I buy.)

Any ideas on how much time I should be thinking about? I know that 2 minutes is probably not
enough and 2 hours is probably too much (besides being just a little bit beyond the budget) but in
between I don't know. Is there any special exercise or preparation or something I should practice
before I go to the tunnel?

Thanks for the help!



Jul 18, 2005, 10:58 AM
Post #2 of 8 (941 views)
Re: [Eule] Tunnel (and skydiving) newbie looking for hints and locations. [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
I have looked on the Web a bit and found where some of them are, but I'm sure I haven't found all of them.

Every VWT that is operational or soon to be or was recently, is on Bodyflight Network It also has FAQs, links to relevant sites, and a tunnel flyer directory.

Once you choose a tunnel location, you can inquire directly with them about procedure... as with most franchises, SkyVentures generally use the same procedures regardless of the location, while the rest of the VWTs have their own independant way of doing things.

And you can cross reference their location with the DZ list on this site, but quickly AAC in North Carolina is near Skydive Carolina, a fabulous liitle gem of a DZ here in the east..
Flyaway PFs closest DZ is Skydive Tennessee in Tullahoma TN, and ASC in Cedartown Georgia, nice little place with great onsite catering!!
Obviously SkyVenture Perris is on the beautiful and big DZ skydive Perris!
and SkyVenture Orlando is surrounded by DZs Deland, Titusville, Lake Whales, Zephyrhills..

All are excellent candidates

The rest of your questions can be answered by the tunnel you choose, to avoid confusion.

How much time depends on what you want to accomplish.. I tell people 15 minutes is a good start, but if you would like to take anything back to the sky with some sort of feeling of mastery, 30 minutes is much better. One person can easily do 30 minutes in one day, ideally the tunnel you choose will be able to sell you additional time by the minute (or two) after that if you want and can handle more.

Pink Suits, Blue Skies & Fast Air,
Dawn Suiter PMTS Delegate

(This post was edited by Bodyflight.Net on Jul 18, 2005, 11:04 AM)

marcandalysse  (C License)

Jul 18, 2005, 7:29 PM
Post #3 of 8 (905 views)
Re: [Eule] Tunnel (and skydiving) newbie looking for hints and locations. [In reply to] Can't Post

I suggest you read through a bunch of threads in this probably have by now.

Your questions have been discussed many times on

have fun,

Avion  (Student)

Jul 19, 2005, 12:24 PM
Post #4 of 8 (886 views)
Re: [Eule] Tunnel (and skydiving) newbie looking for hints and locations. [In reply to] Can't Post

If you come to sunny Florida, you'll be within an hour and a half of five major DZs: Z-Hills, Lake Wales, Sebastian, Tittisville, and my favorite, DeLand.

As far as your tunnel time, the standard is two minutes at a shot and a total of 15-20 mins per session. It's also best to get in two or more sessions, so you can review your video, identify the things you did wrong, or want to do better, and then get back in to work on them.

There's lots of people to share time with here in Orlando (sent >>> Paige <<< a message), so it easy to get 10-15 mins out of a half hour block, or 20-30 mins out of a 60 min block. Remember basic coaching is included with the tunnel time and provided by the tunnel employees.


(This post was edited by Avion on Jul 19, 2005, 12:49 PM)


Jul 19, 2005, 2:31 PM
Post #5 of 8 (868 views)
Re: [Avion] Tunnel (and skydiving) newbie looking for hints and locations. [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
There's lots of people to share time with here in Orlando (sent >>> Paige <<< a message), so it easy to get 10-15 mins out of a half hour block, or 20-30 mins out of a 60 min block.


Got Time? Share it. Want Time? Find it.

I'm not the only one with time listed here so check it all out to see what fits your schedule.

Eule  (Student)

Jul 20, 2005, 1:21 AM
Post #6 of 8 (855 views)
Re: [Eule] Tunnel (and skydiving) newbie looking for hints and locations. [In reply to] Can't Post


Thanks for the help! Between the replies and reading through the forum a bit (which I should have done
before I posted), I think I've got a handle on it now. Now I pretty much need to decide how far I want
to drive, set up a time, and do it. I'll report back after my tunnel time.



Eule  (Student)

Aug 2, 2005, 11:51 PM
Post #7 of 8 (799 views)
Re: [Eule] Tunnel (and skydiving) newbie looking for hints and locations. [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
I'll report back after my tunnel time.

And here it is. I decided to wait for my first couple of jumps after the tunnel time so I could tell if
it "took". It took. :) A somewhat long trip report follows...

After deciding that AAC in Waynesville, NC was about the closest one to me, I booked half an hour on
Saturday 23 July. I left Tulsa on Thursday morning, camped out a bit west of Nashville on Thursday night,
and got to Waynesville on Friday afternoon. I located the tunnel and then started for the campground, up
in Smoky Mountain National Park. The turnoff to the campground is only about a mile from the tunnel, but
the road is "interesting" - I was lucky to still have daylight while I drove up there. 10 miles in about
30 minutes, and the paved road ran out after the first 10 minutes. The reward for all this is a beautiful
campground with a creek and lots of pine trees that is about 15 degrees F cooler than down in the valley.
There were six of about 25 sites left at 19:30 and by about 20:30 it was full.

After setting up camp, I ventured back down into the valley to explore. All of this is on the southeast
side of the national park, which is touristy, but nothing like the north side of the park (Highway 441 -
Gatlinburg - Pigeon Forge - Sevierville). The town of Maggie Valley has some restaurants and chain
motels. I went back to the campground and slept in, as my tunnel time wasn't until 4 PM. On Saturday,
I went into Waynesville - it seems to be the "big city" with more chain motels, a Big Kmart, etc. After
lunch and wandering around downtown Waynesville, it was tunnel time.

When I got there, I was met by the gentleman who helped build the building and now runs the motor (whose
name may be Dan, but I unfortunately can't remember) and Chris, the owner. John and Dawn were driving
in from a long trip and hadn't gotten there yet, so Dan showed us around a bit. Besides myself, there
was a father (skydiver) and his 15-year-old son (not yet a skydiver, but had some tunnel time) and
another guy who I don't think was a skydiver. Shortly, John and Dawn arrived, and the fun started.

John took the four of us into the classroom for a ~15 minute explanation of how to fly in the tunnel.
He asked each of us if there was any particular thing we wanted to work on - this is when I told him that
I was going through AFF. We got done with the class and moved on to suit up. The jumpsuits, helmets,
and goggles were provided. The suit was pretty much like the suits I've been wearing for AFF - not
skin-tight but not big and baggy. The main differences between the tunnel suits and the ones I've worn
for AFF is that the tunnel suits close with Velcro instead of a zipper and the tunnel suits only have
grippers on the hips. The goggles and (open face) helmets were just like I've been using in AFF. A
group of more experienced jumpers that came in after me were wearing their own regular skydiving
jumpsuits, helmets, goggles, etc and flying just fine with them.

The way the tunnel is set up, the air outlet is at ground level and there is a net that is around 50
feet (7 m) square stretched over it about 10 feet (2.5 m) up. You walk out of the second story of
the building onto a concrete deck, and then on to the net. The outer part of the net is made up of
thick nylon? straps, about 1" (2.5 cm) wide, on about a 4" (10 cm) grid. You can walk on this, but
it helps if you spread your feet apart more than normal. In the center, over the air column, there
is a 14 foot (4.5 m) square net that is not as heavy as the surrounding net. The center net is more
like a volleyball net, made up of relatively thin nylon? cords on about a 4" grid. You can walk on
this too, but normally you fly over it. There are some guy ropes in the center that go from the net
down to the ground to keep the center net from blowing up too far when the air is on. The edge of
the air column is marked on the center net by a circle (about 12.5 feet (4 m) diameter) of white
paint. The center of the column is marked by a painted square in the center of the net. There is
also a blue light centered down in the air outlet, so if you look straight down through the white
square and see the blue light, you know your head is in the center of the air.

I got to go first. The first trick is getting airborne. I found that I had to stand at least on
the painted circle and preferably as far inside it as I could get before I tried to lean over and
get horizontal. If I stood further away from the center, my torso would catch air but my legs
wouldn't and I'd either sit there at a 45 degree angle or slide backwards out of the air. Also, as
you get horizontal and your feet want to come up, I found it helped to kick off of the net towards
the center of the circle. Also, the very first time I got on, there was a few seconds of Dan
adjusting the airflow to get it right for me.

When I first got air, it felt to me pretty much like the air rushing past me in free fall. John (and
a new instructor he was training) went to work, helping me fix my body position and stay in the air
column. I was only flying 3 to 6 feet (1 to 2 m) off the net, so John could simply stand on the net
and hang onto me as needed. Flying this low also allowed me to "cheat" - if I was low enough and
felt myself moving towards the edge of the circle, I could grab the net and recenter myself. When I
was flying, John and the other instructor would use hand signals to communicate with me. If I was
standing right on the edge of the air column, I could hear John if he leaned over to my ear and
shouted. If we took one big step back onto the heavier net, we could have a pretty much normal
conversation. I wasn't wearing earplugs.

After I could get reasonbly centered, I did "big man/little man" for a bit, to go up and down relative
to the net. Then, we worked some more on my body position, especially my legs. I fell out of the air
a few times and onto the big net; the only time this hurt is when I landed on my shoulder and head
instead of my feet and tweaked my eyeglasses around. Most of the time, when I knew I was going out
of the air, I just sort of rolled off the edge of the air and landed on the net.

This all happened in five-minute bursts; after five minutes in the air I was quite ready to sit down
for a few minutes, drink some water, and cool off. I didn't find any new muscles I didn't know I had;
I felt tired in the same places I do after a free fall, just more. John joked that I'd feel it in
the morning but I didn't feel that bad when I got up the next day. I would watch the others playing
in the tunnel while I was taking a break - there is an observation area with seats inside the air-
conditioned building. While one person was walking out and the next person was walking in, John would
often jump through the air and do a flip, or a roll, or show off by going about 40 feet up in the air.
Before I got back in the air, John and I would talk a little about what I had been doing and what we
were going to do in the next round.

Somewhere in the second half of the time, I think I figured out what it means to be relaxed. John
would give me the waggly hand or make a funny face. I would let out much of the tension in my arms
and legs and the ride would get a lot more stable. This is what it's _supposed_ to feel like, I
think. When I was trying to stay centered, I had to look down, but once I could stay reasonably
in the center, I could look out and see the Smoky Mountains. Better than Lexan walls, I think. :)

When my time was up, I went back inside and shucked off the gear. After cooling off for a while,
I watched some of my video, and understood better some of the things that had been happening. Also,
a large group of "locals" had come by for some tunnel time, and I talked to them, watched them, and
took pictures. Some of them were doing all sorts of fancy things, like sitflying, 3-person RW, etc.
Their tunnel time ran well after sunset - there are four theatre-type spotlights aimed at the flying
area so you can fly after dark. When we all got done, four of the locals and I did ARW to the
Waffle House in Waynesville for dinner, and then I returned to the campground for the evening.

On Sunday, I decided to break camp and head for Skydive Carolina in Chester, SC - this is where
some of the local skydivers were from. I was hoping to get in an AFF jump to see if the tunnel
time had helped any. Having been well-taught in skydiving, I also stopped and attempted to buy
some beer to take to the DZ, and discovered that South Carolina, like Oklahoma, is one of the
backwards states where you can't buy beer on Sunday. I finally found the DZ in the late afternoon
(SC has some interesting ideas about highway signage, as well) and inquired about making a jump.
At that point I was still on two-instructor jumps, and they only had one AFF instructor there at
the time, so I didn't jump. If I had called ahead of time, they might have been able to have
someone there. So, I just hung out for a bit and checked it out. My home DZ has a 182, but
this place had a "big plane". Even though I saw the it land, it was still a jolt when manifest
came on the PA to announce the next load and didn't stop reading at four names. :) I saw the
last load of the day (13 jumpers) go up and come down, and then I took off.

I had planned to stay in the state park south of Chester, but found the directions at the campground
to be lacking. Basically, it said that if you didn't have a permit the rangers might shoot you, but
offered no information on how to obtain a permit outside of 9-5 M-F. Between that and the lack of
Sunday beer, I wrote off South Carolina and returned to North Carolina, which had been treating me
better, for the night. On Monday I got up, drove through Smoky Mountain National Park, and headed
west for home, stopping near Nashville again on Monday night. The straight-through drive would be
about 13 hours, but I decided I didn't want to knock myself out. On the other hand, knocking
oneself out is relative. I started in Cherokee, North Carolina, and when I crossed back into
Oklahoma, there was the "Entering Cherokee Nation" sign. It took me 13 hours of driving on the
Interstate, about $40 in gas, one night camping out, and a flat tire west of Memphis. 150 years
ago, the Cherokees (and other tribes) _walked_.

The week went by and I went to the local DZ late Saturday afternoon (30 July), but couldn't get a
jump in. I did look at my tunnel tape with my instructors and talked about my next skydive. I
stayed overnight and got on the first load Sunday morning. Survey says... it worked! I was a
lot more stable in free fall, and the jump went a lot better than my recent ones. I got another
jump in later in the day and in that one, I did start a turn I wasn't expecting but I managed to
get out of it. It's still going to take me just a few more than 7 jumps to get through AFF, but
I am making progress again, so I'm happy.

One observation I have about AAC: they are not yet set up for people to walk in off the street.
This is made clear on their Web site, but it bears repeating. You have to book your time through
the Web site, and it's not an automated "shopping cart" kind of deal - it generates an email to
a human who you then correspond with to confirm your time, and this process can take a day or so
to complete. It's not a big deal, but you should allow for it if you are booking time there.
The facility itself is definitely fully set up to deal with walk-ins, but the business processes
aren't there yet. I got the impression that this is a deliberate filter; I think they may _want_
mostly people who are already skydivers or who have played in a tunnel before to help them refine
their setup before they open to the world at large. The tunnel itself works fine; the processes
surrounding it seem to still be somewhat under development.

Anyway, that's the story. Thanks again for the tunnel tips and pointers!



Aug 6, 2005, 6:10 PM
Post #8 of 8 (765 views)
Re: [Eule] Tunnel (and skydiving) newbie looking for hints and locations. [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey 'Eule',

What a cmplete report!! I'm sure it's been very informative for folks reading here on two quick things I wanted to touch on after reading..

Dan's real name is Mike TongueWinkCoolTongue (no biggie really!!)

And it's quite likely that AAC will always operate using an advanced reservations system. The Swiss have used that type of system in the past and we're all pretty happy with the benefits. It helps keep costs down and provides a more private atmosphere to the visitors. Not a filter at all, after 20 years the owner is pretty much decided on how he wants things to operate.. but he can be receptive to new ideas. Laugh

Until we see you again....
Happy flying! Send our love to Jack & Rebecca & the kids!!!

Pink Suits, Blue Skies & Fast Air,
Dawn Suiter

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