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Skydiving vs. Indoor Skydiving

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

With vertical wind tunnels popping up all over the world, indoor skydiving has become a popular sport amongst adventure seekers. But with a name like “indoor skydiving,” your curiosity may be piqued: Does indoor skydiving feel the same as regular skydiving?

Believe it or not, there is a bit of a debate amongst the skydiving community when comparing these two extreme sports: skydiving vs indoor skydiving. So, let’s dive in deeper into the differences of skydiving vs. indoor skydiving and how skydiving sets itself apart from the growing popularity of indoor skydiving.

Indoor Skydiving vs Outdoor Skydiving

Women tandem skydiving with instructor surrounded by white clouds and blue skies

While indoor skydiving does a pretty good job of simulating the feeling of the freefall portion you would experience in skydiving, it lacks in basically everything else. Remember the parachute part? However, the wind tunnel is a wonderful tool for skydivers to practice their body flight skills and to bring the feeling of freefall to those who are uninterested in – or perhaps too young for – skydiving.

The wind tunnel simulates freefall by using industrial size fans that push wind through a flight chamber, through either recirculation (most popular/modern) or directly underneath (old school style). These high wind speeds are capable of holding up your entire body through proper pre-flight training techniques given by trained wind tunnel flight instructors and can be adjusted depending on weight and body position. Participants are usually flying no more than a few feet (give or take) off of a specifically designed metal net – keeping them from falling below the flight chamber – and with supervision.

Is indoor skydiving fun? Sure is! But it doesn’t quite compare to the mental, emotional, and spiritual impact that real-deal skydiving can have on your life.

The Thrill and Sensations of Skydiving

Indoor skydiving does come with its fair share of excitement, but it’s nowhere in comparison to the absolute mind-blowing adrenaline rush that comes with skydiving. 

The process of just getting to altitude is a challenging yet empowering experience that yields a flood of feel-good hormones and a righteous boost in confidence. The build-up of adrenaline as you journey on your 10 to 15 minute airplane ride to altitude to the quick release as soon as you jump out is out of this world! The sights of the world beneath you, the hum of the airplane, the smell of airplane fuel, and the taste of freedom – skydiving quickly transforms into the ultimate sensory experience for your brain and body.

Embracing the Element of Risk and Adventure

Girl jumping out of a plane at Skydive St Louis near the Gateway Arch

Skydiving isn’t just about the thrill – it’s about embracing risk, stepping outside of your comfort zone, and conquering fear. The risks associated with either sport are evident, but while indoor skydiving offers the experience of freefall in a somewhat controlled environment, outdoor skydiving challenges you to confront uncertainty head-on all within the elements of nature. It’s in this uncertainty that the true beauty of adventure thrives. The sense of accomplishment and personal growth that comes with facing your fears and pushing your limits on a skydive is simply unparalleled.

Unmatched Scenery and Natural Beauty

One of the most captivating experiences of skydiving outdoors is the awe-inspiring scenery and natural beauty of the Earth that surrounds you. As you make your way through the sky’s cool embrace, you’ll be surrounded by panoramic views of rolling landscapes, glistening waterways, and the never-ending skies of St. Louis. 

Some indoor skydiving facilities make an attempt to duplicate this experience with virtual reality, and yet it cannot compete with the immersive natural surroundings offered by the great outdoors! Whether you’re gliding over beautiful beach coasts, lush forests, or marvelous mountains – the sight of imperfectly perfect landscapes is sure to leave a lasting impression on your soul.

Connecting with the Elements: Wind, Sky, and Earth

If you ask any skydiver, they’ll agree that skydiving is about connecting with the Earth and elements in a way that is impossible to replicate indoors. From the moment you exit the aircraft to flying the parachute back down to the ground, you’re enveloped by the rush of wind, the vastness of the sky, and the comfort of Mother Earth below. It’s a visceral experience that hits you right in your soul and reminds you of your place in the natural world, how we’re all connected, and gives you an unquestionable appreciation for life itself. 

In comparison, indoor skydiving can feel artificial, lacking the elemental and emotional connection that makes outdoor skydiving a spiritual, uplifting, and epiphany-provoking experience.

Safety and Confidence in Outdoor Skydiving

For many, the idea of skydiving conjures images of danger and uncertainty. And while we agree that skydiving is an inherently dangerous sport, we can assure you that we adhere to rigorous safety standards set forth by the United States Parachute Association (USPA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 

For example, all of our tandem skydiving instructors must undergo meticulous training and credentialing before being signed off as a certified tandem instructor. Our tandem instructors at Skydive STL have thousands of jumps and are fully certified through the USPA.

Each skydiver, instructor or not, is held to the same high standards and must meet all necessary requirements and be approved by a staff member before attempting to perform any kind of jump at our dropzone. These top-notch safety standards are upheld by all USPA Group Member dropzones, including us at Skydive STL! 

While indoor skydiving facilities have similar organizations such as the International Bodyflight Association (IBA) and, they are not required to uphold nearly the same standards as the USPA and are not recognized through any other federal or third-party governing body.

Sideview of a tandem skydiver coming in for a landing at Skydive St Louis

The next time you find yourself debating between indoor and outdoor skydiving, remember this: indoor skydiving offers fun and excitement, and outdoor skydiving offers an unforgettable experience that can change your life in a multitude of ways. To us, skydiving isn’t just something you do for fun, it is a way of life and nothing comes even close to the ultimate thrill and everlasting advantages you can experience on an actual skydive.

Ready to take a leap of faith? Spread your wings and book a skydive with Skydive STL! Blue skies.

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