Athlete Spotlight

Q&A with Kyra Poh, Singaporean Wind Tunnel Champion and Pro-Skydiver

The 19-year-old, who holds the world record for most backward somersaults in a wind tunnel in one minute (68), recently completed her 100th skydiving jump, over the Pyramids of Giza. 

Kyra Poh with her hand against a wind tunnel

Image Credit: Mark Teo @markteozc

January 12, 2022
Owen Clarke

Although her home country of Singapore only has one wind tunnel, 19-year-old Kyra Poh has made waves in the indoor skydiving world (and the outdoor scene as well, for that matter). The Singaporean, who has been flying since 2011, won the junior freestyle category at the Indoor Skydiving World Cup in Warsaw, Poland when she was only 14. She was later named the “World’s Fastest Flyer” at the Wind Games in Catalonia, Spain, and currently holds the world record for the most backward somersaults in a wind tunnel in one minute (68).

More recently, she took 1st Place in the Czech Open Indoor Skydiving competition in January 2020. Poh estimates she has spent between 500 and 700 hours flying in wind tunnels around the world, to date. An avid traditional skydiver as well, she just completed her 100th jump from a plane, over the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, where she was photographed by Scottish photographer Ewan Cowie.

Indoor Skydiving Source caught up with Poh post-jump to chat about her past, career, homelife, and the future of the sport. Read the interview below!

This Indoor Skydiver Is Defying Gravity and Expectations

How old were you when you started flying? How did you find out about the sport?

I started when I was eight years old and I got into it by chance! My mum was helping the tunnel in Singapore with their advertisements, and needed kids to try it out! One thing led to another, and [now] it’s been 11 years in this sport.

In your home country, Singapore, there is only one wind tunnel. Does that limit the growth of the sport there? Has it made it difficult for you to train?

Well, we do the best we can with what we have. We like to grow the community. Together with my mother, other mothers in the Singapore flying community, and my ex flying partner, Yixuan, we give free coaching every Saturday morning to build and grow the community of flyers and get them to fly dynamic together :) It’s been over 3 years that we have been doing this, and it’s super nice to see people improve.

But nope [it hasn’t made it difficult to train]! We have some international coaches coming down, and to have good training we just have to work hard!

You’re an extremely successful competitive flyer… But are you passionate about the competitive side of indoor skydiving? Or is the competition scene something that you’ve gotten into more by default because you love flying in wind tunnels?

YES! Since [I was] young [I’ve been] an overly competitive person by nature, so when it comes to competing in indoor skydiving, I definitely have the passion for it. I love pushing myself to my limits and being put in nervous yet exciting situations and the feeling of performing in front of everyone really makes me very thrilled.

What is the relationship between wind tunnel flying and traditional skydiving?

In my opinion, the free fall part is rather similar and there is a lot that indoor skydiving has helped me with when I transitioned to the skies, but as for canopy control, it’s a new ball game that I was unfamiliar with. So I did a canopy course with [professional skydiver] Pete Allum and that really helped.

 

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A post shared by Kyra Poh (@kyrapoh)

Are the two sports entirely different? What similarities do they share?

Well, the people and community in both sports are 100% amazing and the passion we all share is amazing. As for me personally, I think I am more used to the tunnel, so I feel like I can experiment more, play with different moves, etc. But for the skies, I’m still learning skills and techniques and I still have a huge rig on me so I feel like I need a bit more practice before I get super comfortable in the sky too!

Is there anything you like better about flying in wind tunnels than flying outdoors?

Well, the fact that it’s unlimited time in free fall makes training and repeating moves and perfecting them a lot easier. However, in the skies there is unlimited space, so it’s cool to see what I can do with that advantage when skydiving.

If you could only either fly in wind tunnels for the rest of your life, or skydive for the rest of your life, which would you choose, and why? Which sport is more important to you?

I think I’ll choose skydiving! I have been debating on this and I think that there is still so much for me to venture in, grow, and learn in skydiving that I just wouldn’t want to give it up! And I would love love love to compete in the sky one day too:)

You just jumped the Pyramids of Giza… Can you tell us what that was like?

AMAZING! It was breathtaking flying over the oldest Wonder of the World and we [went] there with all these amazing people made it so much better! It is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I’m happy I was a part of it.

What is the coolest skydive you’ve ever done?

Definitely jumping with my friends over the Pyramids – I did a jump with Fly Warriors and that was really FUN and also on my 100th jump I did a 19-way track over the Pyramids so that was unforgettable too!

What’s your favorite wind tunnel in the world to fly in?

There is one opening in Macau called GoAirborne and it’s new and super, super nice to fly in, with a base door at the top! I went there to do their commercial two years ago and I have been dreaming to go back ever since.

How many locations have you jumped in?

I have jumped in Australia, Spain, Egypt, Hungary, Austria!

What are some of the unique things about the sport of indoor skydiving? What makes it different from any other sport?

That there is no limit to what someone can fly – the creative side of indoor really makes me love this sport and the fact that there is no end to what we can do.

For example, I did competitive swimming for six years before flying and in swimming, there are only four main strokes and people train to get faster and faster. But for flying, it seems like a four-dimensional sport, where there are so many elements and parts and ways to fly and compete. [In that respect] it is so interesting.

What is your homelife like? Siblings? Parents? Boyfriends?

[My] homelife is quite different! I must say I am quite crazy and can sometimes be a bit ditsy which is unlike my persona when I am competing (always being very focused). But I am very appreciative of my family for being so supportive and really being at my back when it comes to my passions. Everyone in my family has been super supportive even when I told them I wanted to have a gap year just to fly and skydive.

I remember my grandma telling me, “Yes of course we will support your idea of taking a break from school, but pursue your sport with 100% and make sure you do it WELL!” So that’s what I’m trying to do! My sister also is just the best:) Even though she is 12 years younger, she is the most mature and doesn’t complain once when we have to travel to places just for me to skydive while she waits at the dropzone and is always so understanding. So I think I really hit the family jackpot and I love them so much.

As for boyfriends… HAHA! To be honest, I used to date another skydiver and flyer and we even took part in a few competitions as a team! I think there is so much to discuss when competing with someone you love but it was a good experience and I learned so much from it… But would I do it again? Haha maybe, probably not.

What other hobbies or interests do you have?

I like to foil surf, I do some art sometimes, and I like to study and learn always in anything!

Is your professional career skydiving full-time, or do you have another job/career that you’re pursuing?

Not sure! I still have loads of time but my aim is to eventually finish university and get a job too.

What is the future of indoor skydiving, in your opinion? Where do you see the sport in five to ten years?

As the biggest sport in the world!!!! Well, that’s me being optimistic and a dreamer! But I hope that it will grow in a good way, where the community is tight and supportive of one another. [Also] I hope it will be an Olympic sport one day!

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Written by,

Owen Clarke
Owen Clarke is an American action sports and adventure travel journalist. In addition to serving as an executive editor at Indoor Skydiving Source, he is an editor-at-large for Climbing magazine and lead writer for the adventure guiding outfitter Benegas Brothers Productions. He also writes for Backpacker, Outside, SKI, and Trail Runner, among other publications.

Published: January 12, 2022 | Last Updated: May 13, 2022

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