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New Aerolab Wind Tunnel Coming to Urban Air in Morrisville, NC

The 8.2-foot recirculating wind tunnel, which will premiere at a new Urban Air Adventure Park, will be the first in the Raleigh-Durham area.

August 16, 2021
Owen Clarke

The first wind tunnel in the Raleigh-Durham area is coming to the Urban Air Adventure Park in Morrisville, North Carolina. The lease has been signed and planning has begun, with the 41,000 square-foot facility scheduled to open to the public later next year (2022).

The Texas-based Urban Air has been around since 2011, and the franchise currently operates over 170 indoor adventure parks across the United States with a variety of attractions, such as go-karts, laser tag, ropes courses, rock climbing, bowling, and mini-golf.

In total, Urban Air reportedly has a whopping 267 locations open and under development across the globe. This makes them the largest “adventure park” operator in the world.

That said, wind tunnels are a relatively new addition to the Urban Air arsenal. The brand made history in early 2019 when they opened the first-ever non-SkyVenture recirculating wind tunnel in the USA at their Fort Worth location. This move offered the first competition to iFLY in the American market.

Urban Air’s standard AEROLAB 8.2ft (2.5m) wind tunnel is smaller than competing iFLY standards (most iFLY locations are either 12 or 14 feet) and perfectly sized for younger, less experienced fliers.

ISS analysis at the time reported that this move proved that “it is possible to open a non-SkyVenture facility in the USA. This is something that has long been a big unknown after the shutdown of the FliteShop project and ISG settlement.”

In addition, Urban Air’s growth fosters market competition in the country, ultimately benefiting the consumer and forcing standalone wind tunnels like iFLY to place a higher value on experienced and returning fliers, due to the plethora of auxiliary attractions at Urban Air facilities.

Urban Air has since opened similar AEROLAB 8.2ft (2.5m) recirculating wind tunnels in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Bee Cave, Texas, and Snellville, Georgia. A handful of others have been announced or under construction.

“We know families are looking for ways to spend more time together and as the premier destination for family fun and adventure, we’re thrilled to bring our park experience to even more families in Morrisville,” Urban Air CEO Jay Thomas said in a press release regarding the new Morrisville UA location. “Each park is equipped with unique and patented attractions, giving families a one-of-a-kind experience and allowing them to be active, soar to new heights, and reach new limits, all while having fun and making memories.”

Urban Air already operates four other locations in North Carolina (Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Cornelius, and Mint Hill), though none of these sites incorporate wind tunnels.

Currently, the state of North Carolina is home to only two wind tunnels, iFLY Charlotte and Paraclete XP SkyVenture in Raeford. The latter tunnel was one of the first 16-foot wind tunnels in history and the first to open in the United States.

The Morrisville Urban Air tunnel will be the first 8.2-foot recirculating tunnel in the state. It is slated to be constructed at 424 Airport Boulevard, Morrisville, NC 27560.

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Written by,

Owen Clarke
Owen Clarke is an American action sports and adventure travel journalist, with particular focus on mountaineering and adventure motorcycling. He is a Contributing Digital Editor for Climbing and Gym Climber magazines, and a lead writer for the adventure film company Benegas Brothers Productions. He has summited over 50 major mountains around the world, from the Southern Alps of New Zealand to the Peruvian Andes to the Moroccan Atlas. He is also Editor-in-Chief of his own digital publication, Dead Foot Collective.
Published: August 16, 2021 | Last Updated: August 16, 2021

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