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DaveL

Wingsuit/Tracking tunnel

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On 1/16/2021 at 6:44 PM, DaveL said:

Is the only wingsuit/tracking tunnel available in Stockhom? Surprised there is not an equivalant tunnel in the US.

Yes. There is rumor of one coming to the US. Land and construction costs are $5M-$10m+ and the market for such a niche is undetermined.

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Seeing for first time customers the attraction be a lot bigger compared to vertical tunnel, due to the media/exposure of wingsuit flying (youtube etc) it has at least equal market value if not bigger, when combined with good marketing/advertising and (for pro-flyers) good coaching availability.

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6 hours ago, mccordia said:

Seeing for first time customers the attraction be a lot bigger compared to vertical tunnel, due to the media/exposure of wingsuit flying (youtube etc) it has at least equal market value if not bigger, when combined with good marketing/advertising and (for pro-flyers) good coaching availability.

Maybe. It’s REALLY difficult to learn to fly in a diagonal wind tunnel with a wing suit compared to a vertical wind tunnel. Most vertical wind tunnel customers are children and families that pay an average of $75 for two minutes. The market for spending $1k per hour for several hours is undetermined.

 

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It’s REALLY difficult to learn to fly in a diagonal wind tunnel with a wing suit compared to a vertical wind tunnel. 

Quite the opposite
Most customers with only 1,5 to 2 hours of flying are doing a lot more, when compared to the rate of progression in vertical tunnel. Do not let the visual of cables fool one in thinking the person is not flying, learning or having a good time. They merely stop the most extreme movement towards the walls (as the force behind it is a lot bigger compared to normal freefall/vertical). But customers are learning from the first second. Regardless if its pro-flyers or intros. With around 10 to 30 minutes, 90% of the customers are flying fully free/unassisted. Ignoring the rare vlogger with no talent for physical sports.

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Most vertical wind tunnel customers are children and families that pay an average of $75 for two minutes.

Indoor Wingsuit charges 105 USD for 3 minutes of flying. That not too far from (actually a tad cheaper) in terms of price per minute. The tunnel does similar intro (and even VR) packages as vertical tunnels, with people who do both the same day (as there is a vertical tunnel next door) often proclaiming liking the wingsuit tunnel most of the two. So there, the market is quite similar.

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The market for spending $1k per hour for several hours is undetermined.

There are several vertical tunnels in the world charging similar prices per hour, while having no issue filling the time slots. Also realize a large part of that pricing comes from a company being in the luxury position of being the only tunnel of it's kind. That price per hour will start dropping, once you see more similar tunnels in more economical locations / in a more competitive market. 

There are currently multiple locations worldwide that are in either funding, and in one case planning/soon building stage. It's a slow and long road, but for sure its a thing you will see growing steady with time.

It's mainly a lot of fun, and (same as vertical) allows for a lot of learning that goes way beyond what's possible in a single lifetime doing only skydives. Especially with regards to competitive flying/training.

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On 2/15/2021 at 2:20 PM, mccordia said:


It's mainly a lot of fun, and (same as vertical) allows for a lot of learning that goes way beyond what's possible in a single lifetime doing only skydives. Especially with regards to competitive flying/training.

That's a quite paradoxical statement considering the overwhelming vast majority of the best wingsuit pilots in America have never once step foot in that tunnel. I've flown with the current world record holders for speed, time and distance (it's not the same person for all three) and we have discussed the tunnel to which they have responded to me they have no experience flying in it.

I haven't been in the tunnel myself so I cant say from direct experience, but based on the countless videos it appears they are using a low airspeed and forcing slow, high AoA flight which if true that is the complete opposite of what you want to be doing when flying a wingsuit in the sky or in the BASE environment.

The tunnel does look fun, but the value is not there. When you take into account flights, hotel, all that the sky ends up being less than half the cost per min of flying, and you're doing the real thing vs a wind tunnel.

Edited by 20kN

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That's a quite paradoxical statement 

I hope you do realize there are other disciplines next to flying in straight line with a GPS shouting in your ear. If performance is your thing, 100% you will get more out of a skydive, as you can't really train the dive/flare in a tunnel. 

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but based on the countless videos it appears they are using a low airspeed and forcing slow, high AoA flight

That could not be more incorrect, but understandable coming from judging based on videos alone, which provide little to no sense of angle or reference. It also mirrors exactly the same critique with regards to how tunnels would be 'bad' for freefly and FS when those initially started becoming more of a regular thing.

If I was overseas and the tunnel was not within reach without already needing to spend a good 1K on travel and hotel alone, Id probably be equally skeptic.

The speeds flown at in the tunnel are identical to the speeds outdoors. Only steep angle flight (where you do fly higher speeds in the sky) are not really doable, mainly due to safety concerns (a 250 kmh headbut into a wall headfirst is potentially suicidal). But all the high AoA and other urban legends about indoor ws flying seem to mostly come from people who have not been there. There I hope (for fun's sake) you get to experience it at some point yourself.

There is not a single reality in this world where a bigger understanding in terms of control, maneuverability, precision and learning the the upper and lower ranges in flying speed while maintaining glide, are a bad thing. It's always going to be easy to try and find some argument against a new thing, but in the end, I would say...give it a try yourself, and you'll see its indeed a valuable addition (not a replacement)

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When you take into account flights, hotel, all that the sky ends up being less than half the cost per min of flying, and you're doing the real thing vs a wind tunnel.

I personally way prefer skydiving over tunnel. More space, better views, fresher air.

But looking at the feedback the actual tunnel itself provides with regards to level, movement, and (for people coming as a customer) getting 1 on 1 coaching for every minute of flight, and being able to get a good 60 acro flights worth of airtime per day, there is no real replacement. Training as an acro team for worlds, looking at doing a good 500 to 1000 jumps worth or airtime, there the tunnel definitely tilts financially in favor of indoor training, if you look at the time and number of trips needed to the DZ.

Also for those in the learning stages, or coaching on a DZ, the tunnel is an incredible tool with regards to creating more understanding for movement, inputs and relative flight to others. We've seen many people who spent 100's of jumps trying to backfly, get it within 15 to 20 minutes in the tunnel, and seemlessly translate that to outdoors.

Looking at acro, there is already quite a bit gap, and last world cup, there was not a single team present who were not using the tunnel for training. And the events where you see 'skydive only' teams flying mixed/against teams with tunnel training, especially in compulsory rounds, you see a bigger and bigger difference.

The WS tunnel is here to stay, and how big or small it will become in future, time will tell.
The USA tunnel project currently in early planning stages in Florida is a step forward to making it more accessible for those overseas, and aiding in the further growth of the discipline.
 

Edited by mccordia
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On 2/15/2021 at 1:20 PM, mccordia said:

Quite the opposite
Most customers with only 1,5 to 2 hours of flying are doing a lot more, when compared to the rate of progression in vertical tunnel. Do not let the visual of cables fool one in thinking the person is not flying, learning or having a good time. They merely stop the most extreme movement towards the walls (as the force behind it is a lot bigger compared to normal freefall/vertical). But customers are learning from the first second. Regardless if its pro-flyers or intros. With around 10 to 30 minutes, 90% of the customers are flying fully free/unassisted. Ignoring the rare vlogger with no talent for physical sports.

Indoor Wingsuit charges 105 USD for 3 minutes of flying. That not too far from (actually a tad cheaper) in terms of price per minute. The tunnel does similar intro (and even VR) packages as vertical tunnels, with people who do both the same day (as there is a vertical tunnel next door) often proclaiming liking the wingsuit tunnel most of the two. So there, the market is quite similar.

There are several vertical tunnels in the world charging similar prices per hour, while having no issue filling the time slots. Also realize a large part of that pricing comes from a company being in the luxury position of being the only tunnel of it's kind. That price per hour will start dropping, once you see more similar tunnels in more economical locations / in a more competitive market. 

There are currently multiple locations worldwide that are in either funding, and in one case planning/soon building stage. It's a slow and long road, but for sure its a thing you will see growing steady with time.

It's mainly a lot of fun, and (same as vertical) allows for a lot of learning that goes way beyond what's possible in a single lifetime doing only skydives. Especially with regards to competitive flying/training.

I’m excited to see the diagonal tunnel project coming along. My comment comparing difficulty flying is based on most vertical wind tunnel flights being first time customers, mostly children and inexperienced adults, semi-flying/floating for less than 3 minutes. Based on what I have seen on videos, you can turn a lot more first-time flyers per hour in a vertical tunnel vs the diagonal. Based on your comments, you have a lot more insight on this subject than I do.

Block-time revenue makes up less than 20% of the total time in vertical tunnels. I’m guessing the diagonal tunnel will be a premium experience for first-timers and will require much longer flight times compared to vertical tunnels to give the customers the ability to get connected/disconnected and taste flight and come away satisfied.

I remember 30+ years ago the vertical tunnel in Pigeon Forge became viewed as a tourist trap that people did and had fun, but, were rarely so thrilled that they did it more than once or recommended it to their friends. The diagonal tunnel will need to caution against the same fate.

I also believe you’ll have a different ratio of first time flyers vs block time. I know I’ll buy several hours once it’s built as will many others who can easily access it compared to Switzerland. Good luck with your project!

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14 hours ago, 20kN said:

That's a quite paradoxical statement considering the overwhelming vast majority of the best wingsuit pilots in America have never once step foot in that tunnel. I've flown with the current world record holders for speed, time and distance (it's not the same person for all three) and we have discussed the tunnel to which they have responded to me they have no experience flying in it.

I haven't been in the tunnel myself so I cant say from direct experience, but based on the countless videos it appears they are using a low airspeed and forcing slow, high AoA flight which if true that is the complete opposite of what you want to be doing when flying a wingsuit in the sky or in the BASE environment.

The tunnel does look fun, but the value is not there. When you take into account flights, hotel, all that the sky ends up being less than half the cost per min of flying, and you're doing the real thing vs a wind tunnel.

 I don't know if you have seen but the tunnel now can change both airspeed and angle of attack, guys working there are doing some silly stuff in big acro suits like freaks/Hogs and judging by how quick people progress I do think that it will be same story as with free flying and vertical tunnels. It is also a great tool for begginers, I did FFC with 2 people who first did 30 min in wingsuit tunnel and they aced it, really smooth flying.

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 Based on what I have seen on videos, you can turn a lot more first-time flyers per hour in a vertical tunnel vs the diagonal. 

The Swedish tunnel is currently quite a 'rough' setup. It's a full horizontal tunnel from 1935 (used to test cars, airplanes etc) that's been converted to an angled tunnel, after a testing phase in 2017.
It's functional, but at the same time is missing a lot of the luxury and practical modifications that could be done to speed up customer flow.

Currently, they operate with a fantime of around 40 minutes per hour when dealing with first timers, and around 45 to max 50 minutes per hour for proflyers with rotation. In case of proflyers, that can be pushed more towards 55 minutes per hour, with a change in the door system (as currently its normal doors that manually need to be opened/closer.  But for sure it's a bit more time consuming for the first-time/tourist-trap customers. We do see most of the first timers are already so excited to wear 'a real wingsuit' that the added time, and slightly higher price-point for a first time experience do not seem to be to much of a negative thing.

Though the cable-assist system is there for the full experience with regard to first timers, it doesn't really limit or take away from the flying experience. Mainly because its something not in your own field of view, and it really only limits a person at the point where it would have been a wall-hit or fall on the floor. The 'disconnect' from the ropes, is for first timers (in feedback) not really an essential element from what I've seen/heard.

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Based on your comments, you have a lot more insight on this subject than I do.

I've been involved in the prototype phase, and setting up the coaching in 2017/2018 and from there on been working as a freelance coach, organizing camps together with my teammate.

We travel once a month from Switzerland (home) to Sweden (tunnel) to coach. The comments/feedback I've written here comes from coaching in the WS tunnel around 1500 hours, together with around 80 to 100 hours of own flying/training.
 

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 I know I’ll buy several hours once it’s built as will many others who can easily access it compared to Switzerland.

Sweden...:E

Edited by mccordia

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There are currently 4 or 5 locations worldwide in EU, USA and Russia where future Wingsuit Tunnel projects are planned.

To be clear, we are active as ws coaches with a good 1500 hrs flying/teaching experience but are not owners or shareholders in the company, and our information on the USA tunnel is based on what we read online and the scarce info that is shared with us from IWF.

The USA tunnel in FL timeline seems to be:

2021/2022: Find Investors / Arrange Permits etc

2023: Build and Opening

Depending on how easy or hard it is to source financing in a post-covid world, with in the USA a struggling IFLY on the edge of bankruptcy as an example, it could end up even stretching towards 2024, or even a risk of it not happening at all. 

We of course hope to see our working grounds expanded to USA as well, but are aware it's not easy times to get such a project financed. What the actual timeline will look like, no idea...but optimism seems to be needed..

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I've been in the WS tunnel and definitely found it good for learning. Raw performance flying is a different kettle of fish but you can still bring little things you learn in the tunnel to that. For another example look at the WS flying you see experienced freefly tunnel flyers doing. They bring skills they've learnt in the vertical tunnels to WS and it helps. 

 

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On 4/22/2021 at 2:17 AM, BMAC615 said:

Tell me more about the iFly bankruptcy.

Just things I hear mentioned here as reasoning for difficulty in securing financing/funding, not subjects Im at any level an expert in myself 

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On 4/22/2021 at 11:28 PM, mccordia said:

Just things I hear mentioned here as reasoning for difficulty in securing financing/funding, not subjects Im at any level an expert in myself 

I’ve heard the same. Metni handing it over a few years ago and all the private equity they took on looked like they were headed in a new direction. Would be interested to know more if anyone can point me in the right direction.

I’m surprised the Kissimmee WS tunnel hasn’t been fully funded yet. I imagine experiential tourism is going to do very well once COVID is behind us.

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Ifly seems to have banned freelance / visiting coaches and camps now, as I read in some well known freefly coaches (frustrated) instagram stories.

seems to also not be a great / strange thing if increased business/ time sales is what they want...

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They want increased net revenue (pun!), not necessarily "time sales."

Margins on experienced flyers are low. First time flyers, birthday parties, etc. That's the time they want to book in order to maximize profit per operating hour. 

Coaches suck up bulk time and pay lower rates for it.

Not saying I like it, but it is what it is.

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On 4/25/2021 at 8:50 AM, Bluhdow said:

They want increased net revenue (pun!), not necessarily "time sales."

Margins on experienced flyers are low. First time flyers, birthday parties, etc. That's the time they want to book in order to maximize profit per operating hour. 

Coaches suck up bulk time and pay lower rates for it.

Not saying I like it, but it is what it is.

That’s what I took away as well. The only issue is the iFly tunnels are way more than necessary for the bulk of their most profitable customers. They are designed and built for peak performance of vertical body flight, but, that isn’t necessary to let a 10 year old to float around for a couple minutes.

That was my original concern for the inclined wind tunnel as well. How many kids and adults can you run through this thing each hour and what are the margins compared to experienced flyers? I’m sure they’ve done the analysis, but, I’m a little skeptical unless the market can bare a premium price.

A lot of us will pay whatever they set the price at because the only other option is flying to Sweden.

Edited by BMAC615

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On 4/25/2021 at 1:47 AM, mccordia said:

Ifly seems to have banned freelance / visiting coaches and camps now, as I read in some well known freefly coaches (frustrated) instagram stories.

seems to also not be a great / strange thing if increased business/ time sales is what they want...

This seems more like continued fallout from a life-changing injury than the financial issue.

On 4/25/2021 at 8:50 AM, Bluhdow said:

Coaches suck up bulk time and pay lower rates for it.

They could easily stop that practice without banning the coaching itself, if that's what they wanted.

1 hour ago, BMAC615 said:

The only issue is the iFly tunnels are way more than necessary for the bulk of their most profitable customers. They are designed and built for peak performance of vertical body flight, but, that isn’t necessary to let a 10 year old to float around for a couple minutes.

I don't see the issue. Maybe they would have designed it to be cheaper had they understood where their business model was going. Maybe they wouldn't have, because instructor demos are still important. Either way, it's a sunk cost.

1 hour ago, BMAC615 said:

That was my original concern for the inclined wind tunnel as well. How many kids and adults can you run through this thing each hour and what are the margins compared to experienced flyers? I’m sure they’ve done the analysis, but, I’m a little skeptical unless the market can bare a premium price.

To me it seems like a safe assumption that this will be geared toward experienced flyers, and the margins would have to be set accordingly.

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5 hours ago, nwt said:

This seems more like continued fallout from a life-changing injury than the financial issue.

They could easily stop that practice without banning the coaching itself, if that's what they wanted.

I don't see the issue. Maybe they would have designed it to be cheaper had they understood where their business model was going. Maybe they wouldn't have, because instructor demos are still important. Either way, it's a sunk cost.

To me it seems like a safe assumption that this will be geared toward experienced flyers, and the margins would have to be set accordingly.

What are you basing your opinions on?

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2 hours ago, BMAC615 said:

And what is the basis of your opinion that that is the reason for the policy change?

Just that it happened shortly after and seemed very rushed. There was very little time between when any flyers were informed of the change and when it went into effect. The software and processes were buggy and they've been very strict. They've now made a second wave of restrictions with this ban on coaching, which further makes it seem like they're reacting quickly vs. planning. I didn't see this injury happen, but I heard that unofficial coaching may have been a factor.

It seems to fit. It's the best explanation I've heard so far, but if you think you have a better one, I'll listen.

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