By Ryan Arkle
Wind tunnels have surged in popularity since their introduction in the 1970’s, with many skydivers often turning to the tunnel to advance there skills. We talk to Ryan Arkle of Tunnel Ninja Ltd to give an expert view on indoor skydiving.
Is tunnel necessary to be a great skydiver?
There are plenty of sky ninjas who haven’t set foot in a “windy room”. But tunnel time is definitely the best way of fast tracking ones flying progress. The incoming tunnel walls will tell you straight away if you are moving! This need to be highly accurate with all movements hones your skills at a rapid pace. And with the right coach, you can put the fast track into overdrive. You`ll be achieving goals and earning stickers quicker than you ever thought!
Can you wear a tunnel suit in the sky/skydive suit in the tunnel?
Of course, you can wear either in both. However, when it comes to tunnel, you really want a purpose built tunnel suit! The bottom line is this....you are there to fly YOUR body. So only a well measured, well fitting, comfortable suit will do. Over the years I have had many bespoke suits and the Vertex Freefly Pro is fantastic. I use it for all my tunnel coaching and when I skydive.
What is the difference between a tunnel suit and a skydive suit?
A skydive suit will be put through different stresses than a tunnel suit. Being crammed into jump planes, rough landings etc will require a hardier suit material such as Codura for the butt and back. With a tunnel suit, a strong back panel is what I would recommend to anyone who is still learning basic freefly (spandex wears quicker on the net). I see many people sliding around the net in new suits and its painful to watch! The more advanced you become, you can add more spandex and taslan. Be prepared to spend a good 10-20 mins adjusting to how the suit will fly! Another thing to bear in mind is whether you have a naturally fast/slow fall rate. If your friend is twice your size and falls like a safe, get a faster material and vice versa.
Freefly suit - loose or tight
All comes down to personal preference. It’s a Goldilocks situation and 99% of people I see and fly with, prefer a well fitting suit. Not skin tight, where it’s basically painted on and not super baggy. The torso length is critical. Too tight and you lose range of motion. Too loose and your suit inflates as you fly.
What’s the difference is between tunnel and skydive?
Tunnel is all about efficiency. What I love the most is that whatever day you decide to book in and fly. You WILL fly that day. No weather holds, no waiting around, no half full loads (+no packing :P ) You can learn in one day what could take multiple weekends of skydiving. FACT
Can I fly a shorty in the tunnel?
You can fly anything with enough practice, and a shorty suit will just feel a little different. Purely because you are used to having lift on the lower legs and arms. I personally have flown in everything from a xxxl suit to a morphsuit so I know it`s all possible!
Flying in the tunnel vs skydive is tunnel worth the money?
Tunnel is expensive, there`s no denying that. However I believe it is a matter of perspective. When you weigh up the freefall equivalent in terms of skydives, its actually far cheaper and MUCH, much more efficient. You could easily do 1 hour of tunnel in a day, never 60 skydives....with time to watch the footage from all jumps....and breaks......and feedback.....and not be completely broken after!