Utahns taking skydiving to new heights using wind tunnel in Ogden

Posted at 10:12 PM, Nov 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-23 09:34:04-05

OGDEN, Utah -- An Ogden business is attracting thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies, and they're defying gravity and chasing world records.

Dusty Hanks, Reese Willson and Devin Roane are the masters of the wind tunnel at iFLY Utah in Ogden.

“All three of us are very passionate about what we do,” Roane said of their work as instructors, trainers and coaches.

The men have been flying for years.

“I’ve been skydiving for just over 20 years, and I have about 9,500 sky dives,” Hanks said.

The instructors at iFLY Utah are some of the best in the world and are using the wind tunnel to take them to new heights.

“It just showed me a whole new world as far as what we can do as skydivers,” Hanks said.

The tunnel features wall-to-wall airflow traveling upwards of 180 miles per hour, and when you enter, the wind takes you off your feet.

“There's nothing else like it: You get to fly,” Willson said.

It's the thrilling experience of free-fall skydiving without the parachute, or the risk. To create that free-fall experience requires a lot of power.

“This is one of four fans, it's a fixed blade electric fan,” Roane said.

That's 1,200 horse power, pushing air through the tunnel, which is 14-feet in diameter.

“It funnels it into a smaller area, so it's kind of like putting your thumb on a hose," Willson said.

The force sends fliers to the top of the 40-foot tunnel.

“The wind is your playground,” Roane said.

The instructors spend thousands of hours in the tunnel sharpening their skills and helping others do the same, including FOX 13’s Kiersten Nuñez. While she couldn’t manage the flips, the coaches helped her navigate through the air.

Aiden Lambert, a skydiver from Australia, said the coaches at iFLY are helpful and offer a one of a kind experience.

“They're the best in the world,” he said. “Really you're not going to get these kind of instructors anywhere else.”

That's why thousands of people from around the world come here every year, spending days and sometimes weeks training.

“Fliers of all ages, all backgrounds—Israel, Brazil, Canada, Mexico—they come here to fly with us.”

The professionals take what they learn here to the skies.

“This is an amazing training tool for skydiving, it's actually taken skydiving and elevated the level,” Roane said.

With an average free-fall jump lasting just around 45 seconds, the tunnel allows for hours of air time each day.

“For us to get an hour of flight time in the sky will take 60-100 jumps,” Hanks said.

That extra training gives the daredevils an edge, and this year they brought home the gold in skydiving nationals.

“It’s the only way any team is going to win a competition nowadays,” Hanks said.

The group is pushing the limits of skydiving and breaking world records.

Roane said: “One hundred and sixty-four people all flying head down at around 200 mph, and we all linked together in the sky in one sky dive.”

The professionals fly in the tunnel, with ages 3 to 103 and with those of any skill level.

“It feels limitless,” Willson said.

Roane said anyone is welcome to come visit.

“If you want to learn and you want to learn fast, then come to iFLY Utah,” he said.

For more information, visit iFLY Utah’s website.