The region of L’Alt Empordà (Spain, Catalonia), the Mecca of skydiving, is home to the Empuriabrava WINDOOR Real Fly wind tunnel, the first free fall simulator on the peninsula open to everyone. This new installation allows you to safely experience the exhilarating sensation of flying inside a cylinder with glass walls that are 10 metres high, which reproduces the effect of hovering in the air.
WINDOOR Realfly General Manager Aurélien Cabezon told us how easy it is to make human beings’ dream come true: to fly!
Irina Rybalchenko, Empuriabrava, for El Periòdic News
Please tell us about the history of this site. How was the idea born? Who are the creators and owners of WINDOOR Real Fly?
In general, the idea originated in the 1980s thanks to skydivers who trained in this way. Because of the complete security of the installation, it became clear that the flights are accessible to all people of all ages. Freefall, previously reserved for skydivers, has now been made accessible to the public thanks to ultramodern technology that recreates the sensation of flying without requiring someone to jump out of an aeroplane. Even children over 4 years old can feel the sensation of flying.
As for the owners, they are five skydiving lovers.
Who are your main visitors?
Two different user profiles frequent the vertical wind tunnel. On the one hand, professional skydivers come here from all over the world to improve their flying techniques and acrobatic figures. On the other hand, among our visitors, there are many beginners (first-time flyers) who come here to experience the incredible sensation of flying.
These two types of visitors meet every day near the vertical wind tunnel, a cylinder with glass walls that are 10 metres high. The transparency of the wall intensifies the feeling of floating freely and allows those accompanying you to immortalise the moment by taking photos and budding skydivers to observe the technique of indoor flight.
It’s not necessary to be in good shape to experience free fall, isn’t-it?
Indeed! You will always be in the hands of our professional instructors, among whom you will find world champions and the fastest flyer in the world.
But it’s important to say that it is also a real sporting activity. There are competitions – the world wind tunnel championships. The best in the world isonly 14 years old and they have never jumped out of a plane! Young people are physically very good and they learn very quickly. Children are always very good at every similar sport!
In addition, we work with the French Parachuting Federation, which has obtained the European budget to finance flights for people with disabilities. So, people with disabilities (including children with autism, for example) can fly free of charge. It’s great because flying gives them freedom.
Interestingly, the wind tunnel is very similar to diving – it gives the same feeling.
All your visitors smile during the flight… Is it so cool and not scary at all?
Try it for yourself and you will understand it much better than any explanation…
Do you have visitors from other countries?
Very good question! We are always waiting for Andorrans to come here to discover indoor flight. We will be very happy to share this experience with everyone. Now, our visitors are more from Catalonia and France. And we have a huge flow of visitors from Barcelona, even though there is our second WINDOOR Real Fly point in Barcelona.
What can you say about the number of visitors? Is there a positive trend compared to last year?
The tourism boom happened last year after the COVID restrictions were lifted. In the conditions of the current global economic crisis, this year people are paying more attention to their expenses, saving more, and going to restaurants less. And this trend can be seen in all European wind tunnels and other entertainment venues.
What exact options do you offer?
There are several options. It always depends on the client’s budget. The package includes a minimum of two flights per person. The first time you’re just trying to figure out how to keep balance. The flight seems to be very fast. The second time you become more confident and start enjoying… We recommend three flights because the third flight usually goes much better – you knowhow to move forward, descend, turn right, turn left. More flights bring better results! You need only about fifteen minutes of flight and you manage to be autonomous.
Before the start of the flight, our visitors undergo a detailed briefing; they are given a uniform, a protective helmet and special glasses. After the flight, each participant is given a commemorative certificate that the flight instructor has signed.
And then, flying alone is good, but you can learn to fly in pairs with your friend or your couple. And it’s important to mention that in that case, you divide the price by two. And if you are four, you divide the price by four people. So, here you can not only discover the activity, but you can also progress and even start competing if you want.
What do these competitions look like?
The Wind Games are the largest indoor flying competition in the sporting world. It is a real challenge to gravity, where art, technique and speed are at stake.
Seven flying disciplines bring together over 200 world-class athletes in a three-day competition. The event first took place in 2014 and as of 2017 has always been held at Windoor’s facility in Empuriabrava, Spain. The event finds coverage in the sports press and on television in more than 100 countries.
Are there any age restrictions for seniors? How old was your oldest visitor?
Our oldest visitor was 92 or 93 years old, I believe. In principle, there are no restrictions because it is a safe activity that is full of pleasure, good emotions and fun.