x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Highest wind tunnel in the world to open in Dubai

The world's highest vertical wind tower will open this summer at the Al Ain campus of SkyDive Dubai.

DUBAI // The world's highest wind tunnel will open this summer at SkyDive Dubai's desert base.

InFlight Dubai's glass wind tower will stand 20 metres tall and five metres wide, beating its rivals in the United States at 15.8m and in Singapore, 17.2m.

"Imagine flying in Dubai Mall's fish tank and all your friends watching you," said Iain Scott McDonald, operations manager at InFlight Dubai.

The tower will be housed in a four-storey building that should be completed by next month.

Four high-powered fans will push air into the tunnel, creating wall-to-wall airflow with enough lift to support up to about 115 kilograms of weight in flight.

"It's all very technical and it is the latest technology to give the best experience," said Alex Jacob, InFlight Dubai's marketing manager.

Those who take flight inside the glass tower will experience the same rush of adrenalin as those who jump out of a plane at 3,650m, according to Matthew Adam Gagne, an instructor at the centre.  "You don't get the view but it's definitely very much like free-falling in the sky. All the mechanics of movement, flying your body and the feeling is the same," Mr Gagne said.

"The difference is there is no plane or view, but also no risk of hitting the ground."

Because there is no parachute involved, the tunnel will provide a perfect way for beginners to experience the sensation of floating. It is also expected to be popular with professionals and the military.

"It's good to be in such a big tunnel. They'll be able to practise the most amazing manoeuvres over and over again to get it right for competitions," Mr Jacob said.

He hopes the tower will attract experienced jumpers from overseas. "They can perform aerial manoeuvres, shoot up, dive down and they will really appreciate it," he said.

Apart from securing the record for highest vertical wind tunnel, the team at InFlight Dubai will also organise a record attempt for the most jumpers in a vertical wind tunnel at one time.

Skydiving is an increasingly popular sport in the UAE.