An Inside Look at the UK’s First Outdoor Wind Tunnel
The adventure park Hangloose Bluewater is now operating an “outdoor skydiving machine” with an air column 10 feet wide.
When you think of indoor skydiving, you probably think of… well, being indoors. So do we! But outdoor wind tunnels aren’t just a far-flung concept anymore, they’re starting to open around the world. And on that note, the United Kingdom’s first outdoor wind tunnel is now welcoming flyers! (At this rate, we may have to change our name from Indoor Skydiving Source…)
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this “outdoor skydiving machine” was built by AERODIUM Technologies. Founded by wind tunnel patriarch Jean St. Germain in Canada back in 1979, the brand was the first to manufacture wind tunnels for human flight. Today based in Riga, Latvia, AERODIUM is arguably the world’s leading outdoor wind tunnel manufacturer. They’ve designed several previous outdoor tunnels, such as Miami’s SuperFlight (now operating out of Boca Raton, FL) and the massive Peryton tunnel for the movie Mission: Impossible – Fallout, which boasts a flight chamber measuring 231 square feet in area! Now AERODIUM has lent its skills to Hangloose Adventure, a UK adventure park chain that’s already home to zip lines and giant swings, among other adrenaline-focused attractions. The tunnel is part of Hangloose’s Bluewater destination, at the Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent, England.
Bringing this outdoor skydiving machine to life “adds a new type of experience, to not only Hangloose but to the United Kingdom,” said Hangloose’s Brooklyn Skeete. “Indoor tunnels are great, but there is something extra crazy about not having the glass tunnel around you [and] instead being surrounded by trees when you’re flying.” While flyers aren’t able to use the tunnel walls to maneuver like in a traditional wall-to-wall tunnel, “being surrounded by nature makes [the flying experience] very surreal,” she added.
Once on-site, the tunnel took just over two weeks to install, but “the installation was incredibly difficult due to the location,” Skeete said. The tunnel is nestled below a curving cliffside, surrounded by trees. “Normally, cranes would be used to install various parts, but this was simply not possible. So the team here at Hangloose worked tirelessly alongside AERODIUM to install the machine.”
The entire tunnel machine is approximately 65 feet wide, with a flight zone 10 feet wide, and flyers can experience wind speeds up to 150 miles per hour. (Most outdoor tunnels offer slightly lower wind speeds than indoor tunnels, due to the absence of walls to pressurize and funnel the wind.)
While the tunnel is primarily designed to cater to first-time flyers, as a “world-class bucket list experience,” Skeete said that Hangloose plans to open the tunnel to competitive and professional flyers in the near future. The park will soon offer membership rates and pro-flyer rates, in addition to the two, four, and six-minute flight packages currently on offer.
As of now, prices vary based on the number of flights and whether the flyer is an adult or child. Children can hop in for two one-minute flights for £40, four flights for £65, and six flights for £90. For adults, respective packages cost slightly more, at £60, £100, and £135. Participants have the option to string two one-minute flights together into a single, longer flight as well.
Skeete emphasized that although the tunnel is in an “adventure park” destination and the initial offerings cater to first-time flyers, the outdoor experience is one-of-a-kind, something that even the most experienced tunnel flyers will appreciate. “I would strongly recommend flyers of all abilities to come and find out what it’s like to fly in an open wind tunnel,” she said. “It’s truly an awesome experience.”
Hangloose Bluewater is approximately 40 minutes from central London by train. Readers can visit their website to learn more and plan a visit.
Published: August 29, 2022 | Last Updated: September 5, 2022
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