The Sunday Telegraph – ‘Skydiving centre staying close to the ground.’

Article by IAN McPHEDRAN.

TWO retired SAS soldiers have fulfilled a fallen comrade’s dream by creating a unique sky-diving centre to enhance the safety of jumpers.

Inspired by the vision of Sergeant Blaine Diddams, who died in Afghanistan in July, Danny Hogan and Wayne Jones plan to offer skydivers the chance to test their skills on wind tunnels.

“Up in a plane you get about 40 seconds free-fall time, but in the tunnel you can do the equivalent of 60 sky dives in an hour,” Mr Jones said. “There is a huge advantage in practising in the wind tunnel before you step out of a Herc(ules) at night at 18,000 feet.”

Mr Jones said his company Indoor Skydive Australia aim to build several wind tunnels, starting next year at Panthers Leagues Club. The centre will include a 5m x 11m wind chamber powered by four fans generating winds of up to 250km/h.

“The user simply falls into a column of air and the wind speed is controlled by the operator taking account of the person’s size and shape,” Mr Hogan said.

The facility has been approved by the council as part of an $850 million re-development and should be up and running by Christmas next year. It will operate 15-hours-a-day, 364-days-a-year.

Both men are experienced skydivers and Mr Jones, a 14-year veteran, has taken his skills into the civilian world where he jumps out of planes for fun. He was part of the Australian “head down” free flying record last year when 33 oxygen-equipped jumpers linked up at 18,000 feet.

The facility will be open to everyone, from first timers to world class sky divers at a cost of about $100 for an hour that includes training, suiting up and two “skydives”.

“Up and down movement in the chamber is regulated by body position and we can guarantee that is the most fun you can have with your clothes on,” Mr Hogan said. The company chairman is former army chief Ken Gillespie and the men have had strong interest from the military.