Ahh, the never-ending conundrum of indoor skydiving vs outdoor…which is better? With the turn of the seasons and jumpable days becoming fewer and far between (big sad!), many people will turn to indoor skydiving to get their fix. Outdoor skydiving is tried and true to be the best, but indoor skydiving is a great option to be introduced to the world of flight and to stay current during the off-season. Let’s jump into the differences!
The Major Differences Between Indoor Skydiving vs Real Skydiving
Welllll, as much as we’re wincing from the inevitable stink eye coming our way from the tunnel rats* when we say this … indoor skydiving isn’t real skydiving. It’s just not; it’s a freefall simulation at best.
*A “tunnel rat” is someone who ONLY flies in the tunnel and never the sky.
Do you wear the same thing?
Yes and no. When in the wind tunnel you will wear a helmet and jumpsuit. When solo skydiving for real, you’re required to wear a jumpsuit, helmet, altimeter (to determine what altitude you’re at), and a rig. Some experienced skydivers who use the wind tunnel to practice freefalling may wear their skydiving gear in the tunnel to simulate a skydive as closely as possible.
The sky is pretty freakin’ big, right? Meaning that, while a wind tunnel is definitely large enough to accomplish what it’s made for, there is less room for error.
For example, in freefall there is a thing you can do called back-sliding. Basically, all this means is that your legs or arms are angled in a way that forces you to go backward and, while it’s a necessary skill to learn, it’s easy to accidentally do and most new skydivers are guilty of it! In the sky, nothing really happens, you just…back up. In the tunnel, you hit the wall. This isn’t usually a huge deal (unless you really SEND IT into the wall) and is more frustrating and annoying than anything!
When you’re skydiving, the views are at least 75% of the fun. In the tunnel you don’t really have many compelling choices as to what you should look at, your options are limited to your instructor, the crowd watching you, and the net below you. When you’re in the vast expanse of the big blue sky you can look at the mountains, sunset, or the Atlantic Ocean, like…come on!
Does indoor skydiving feel like real skydiving?
This is a tricky question, because to an extent indoor skydiving does simulate the physical feeling (wind speed) of real skydiving during the freefall portion of the jump. But looking at all factors involved, are they similar? Nah. The excitement and “checking off the bucket list” vibes of a real skydiving experience is just unmatched.
Is indoor skydiving safe?
Generally speaking, the risk factor of indoor skydiving is low. People often nervously ask, “Is indoor skydiving dangerous?” and, while it is an exciting, new and unique activity when executed correctly and with a professional instructor, it ultimately presents a fun learning experience – not a dangerous one. Children as young as three years old are able to fly in a wind tunnel – this is a big leap from the 18-year-old age limit for real skydiving!
The United States Parachute Association (USPA) mandates that all jumpers must be 18 or older to skydive. While there are some skydiving centers in the US that allow minors to jump, all USPA-affiliated dropzones are required to follow this age restriction. Additionally, the manufacturers of our gear have size requirements on the parachute systems used for a tandem skydive.
Is outdoor skydiving worth the wait?
You mean, is it worth it to wait a couple of months for the weather to clear so you can soar through the skies like a little birdie at 14,000 feet, meet some of the nicest people ever, check a coveted activity off your bucket list, and have the experience of your LIFE? Ummm, YES!
So, why do people do indoor skydiving?
People who have never jumped before like the fact that indoor skydiving offers freefall simulation before doing the real thing. Indoor wind tunnels have looser weight and age restrictions than outdoor skydiving centers, so it can be a fun activity for kids and for folks whose health precludes them from jumping out of a perfectly good airplane!
Learning to fly in the tunnel for years before your 18th birthday, and then taking up skydiving for real, will make you a confident shredder in the sky! People who are skydivers may prefer to use the tunnel to nail down good flying habits and break the bad ones they may have formed in the sky.
Also, the tunnel allows you to only focus on the freefall portion of the skydive. Instructors can look at every inch of your body to see where improvements can be made to your technique (because neither of you will be thinking about watching your altitude, pulling your parachute, and landing)!
We won’t shame you for practicing your arch (BANANA!) in the tunnel before you come jump with us, and we can’t wait to help you experience the freedom of flight, for REAL!