Indoor Skydiving Virtual Reality
What is it?
The realm of possibility within the wind tunnel is only jut beginning to be tapped into. Beyond the first-time experience or training for traditional skydiving disciplines, wind tunnel enthusiasts have developed Dynamic and Freestyle into more mature events, leading to even more diversification, like tunnel games and races, and now, even Virtual Reality.
Virtual Reality is a burgeoning technology involving the use of a headset to create a simulation of a three-dimensional environment in which the user can interact. In Indoor Skydiving, wind tunnels are taking Virtual Reality to the next level by giving flyers not only the physical sensation of flight but also the visual reproduction, to create a complete skydiving experience.
There are two wind tunnels currently offering a Virtual Reality package: Bodyflight Bedford and iFLY Milton Keynes, both located in the UK. In each case, a Cookie Composites G3 is outfitted with a Virtual Reality headset and the experience is bookable as part of a first-time flyer package.
We caught up with the General Manager (and IBA-rated Instructor) of iFLY MK, Andy Godwin, to learn more:
Do experienced flyers enjoy It?
“We have tested the technology on pro-flyers and skydivers the reaction so far has always been the same, they love it. The flyers can’t put a finger on it. They all think it sounds good but probably won’t be and are amazed at how real it is. They all say how it makes then SMILE a big smile because it is like skydiving but it is not, but it is like skydiving. I think because it replicates the whole skydive so well that it messes with the brain, which knows it is not real, yet it feels real, which adds a whole new level when it comes to tunnel flying. It’s a like magic, the way it misdirects you so that you really feel like you are flying.”
What is it like for the instructors?
“As an Instructor, and having taken in most classes so far, I can say that it is easy. The equipment works every time. You can push a button on the headset that allows the customer to see through the phone, so they don’t have to sit in the dark. This helps take away a lot of the flyers’ anxiety. The Instructor has a separate screen outside of the tunnel that displays what the flyer is seeing, giving him or her the ability to ensure the flyer is facing the right way and not missing any action. Yes, the Instructor needs to hold the flyer throughout the duration of the flight, regardless of previous flying experience, but they are so immersed in the experience, they hardly notice. In fact, many people actually fly better because they are more relaxed while engaged with the video, than if they were flying normally and worrying about body position. The video ends with a parachute deployment sequence, at which time the Instructor clicks the button again, so the student can see the door to exit.”
Moving forward, we expect to see many more tunnels offering the technology, with all sorts of different flying videos to watch. What do you think, are you ready to go for it?
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