Gold Coast article – ‘Indoor skydiving tunnel plans for Coast’

Written by Sophie Foster –

THE Gold Coast could soon be home to one of Australia’s first indoor skydiving tunnels.

Brisbane businessman Stephen Baxter is one of the backers of a new tourism company behind the plans that would see one built in NSW and one on the Coast.

Indoor Skydiving Australia Group, led by two former special forces officers Wayne Jones (chief executive) and Daniel Hogan (chief operating officer), will this month attempt to raise $12 million ahead of a stockmarket listing.

The company plans to build a 21m-high wind tunnel in Penrith, at the Panthers Leagues Club.

“We’re looking at building a number of these facilities in Australia, one on the Gold Coast. There’s a huge market in Australia and within our region for these facilities,” Mr Jones said.

Mr Baxter said the first facility was “quite a monster” which would be able to take eight special forces guys at a time practising manoeuvres.

But he said for the Gold Coast and other locations it would be smaller “tourist tunnels” for smaller groups if not singles “just to give that once-off flight experience”.

The 15m-high tourist tunnels were expected to cost significantly less.

Mr Baxter said Initial Public Offer documentation was lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission this week.

“We’re looking to raise $12 million,” he said, “We already have pre-committed $3 million from various shareholders.”

Mr Hogan said the lift in the tunnels were provided by 450-horsepower fans in the ceiling which draw winds up through a flight chamber, allowing the enthusiast to “fly”.

“Once those winds are drawn up through those fans, it is then recirculated through two very large return air towers and it goes down into the basement and then it is drawn back through that flight chamber at around 250 km/h.”

“You are essentially skydiving,” he said.

“It’s the closest thing you’ll get to actual skydiving without jumping out of a plane.”

Each flight is expected to last 50 seconds, which is equivalent to freefalling from 14,000 feet. The skydive is expected to range from $80 to $150, available to anyone between the ages of five and 95.

The first facility is expected to be operational no later than January 2014, with the rest of the indoor drop zones to follow shortly afterwards.

Mr Baxter ranked 149 with an estimated wealth of $38 million in this year’s Queensland Top 150 Rich List, published by The Sunday Mail. He made his fortune through the fibre optic cable company PIPE Networks which was sold to TPG Telecom in 2010.