Catching up with… Emma Mattacola
Thoughts on the battle for the World Cup, just round the corner!
Wind tunnels are springing up around the world at the rate of one a month. More and more people are going to fly at the weekends as the craze of indoor skydiving sweeps the globe.
First and foremost, it’s great fun! Haven’t you ever wondered what it feels like to fly? Defy gravity and find out. You get a buzz from tunnel flying, just as you do with skydiving, windsurfing, climbing or any extreme sport. Facing the elements, using your body and having a unique experience.
The secret of fitness is to find something you enjoy doing. We all know that feeling of dragging yourself to the gym. Indoor skydiving is fabulously addictive but good for you! It burns a ridiculous number of calories, helps flexibility and you don’t have to force yourself to do it. Plus, it gives you a natural high that makes you want to be even more active.
People of all ages can fly – from grannies to grandsons. Children from 3 years old to centenarians have tried indoor skydiving. Most wind tunnels have Kids Clubs, offering special deals and coaching to encourage younger flyers. It takes them away from computer games and into being active. Children excel at flying because they pick it up quickly, and they love it!
Flying in a tunnel is a very different way to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or corporate event. Friends family or colleagues can fly as a group, so they share the challenge and adventure. It’s a great bonding experience, especially for people who don’t know each other well, and for team-building. Most tunnels can cater for your group afterwards, and many are in a location for other adventure sports, so you can go indoor skiing, climbing or surfing too.
Even disabled people can try indoor skydiving. People who can’t walk find they can fly – really fly – in a wind tunnel. This makes tunnel flying a perfect group activity for able-bodied and disabled people to do together. Instructors reported that there is no difference in how quickly people pick up flying if they are handicapped (assuming a reasonable degree of body control) compared to the typical member of the public. This gives disadvantaged people tremendous confidence that extends beyond the tunnel walls.
It’s not just for a one-off thrill, indoor skydiving is a whole sport in its own right. Whether you want to fly for fun with groups of your friends, or train to enter competitions, a whole new flying world is open to you. You can learn to fly in a team of four, to fly on your belly, standing up or upside-down, or even play Twister in the tunnel!
The International Parachuting Commission (IPC) recognized Indoor Skydiving in 2014 as an official discipline, with competitions to decide the global champions. For example, the 3rd FAI World Cup of Indoor Skydiving will be held at Gravity, Bahrain, 25-28 October 2018. Indoor skydiving is currently a test event for the Olympics and may be adopted in the next decade. WCIS2018 has a separate section for junior competitions, flyers aged from 12 to 17, so they can be champions in their own right. There are also competitions around the world where all ages compete together – and where children often beat the adults at their own game!
If you’re thinking of trying skydiving, the tunnel is the perfect place to start. Just like learning to ski on a dry slope, you can practice the basics so you progress quickly in the real sport. Accelerated Freefall Courses are 3-day courses that teach you to skydive, on your own from the beginning, with an instructor either side. Many courses now include wind tunnel training in their syllabus, as the experience is so valuable. If you are a skydiving student struggling to progress, 15 minutes indoor skydiving will sort out your problems. Because it's a non life-threatening environment you can relax and concentrate on flying
VR headsets are offered in many tunnels around the world. They project the visuals of skydiving over real places in the world. You can really experience what it’s like to skydive without ever getting in an aeroplane. All the thrill without the risk.
Whenever you go to a wind tunnel you’re likely to see the most incredible levels of body flight, as individuals have applied their talents to perfect ever-more amazing tricks. Watch and be blown away by the extremes of human endeavor. For example, watch this stunning ‘freestyle’ skydancing, by Inka Tiitto, World Champion of Indoor Skydiving 2015, filmed at Gravity Indoor skydiving, Bahrain…