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Float like a butterfly in India’s first indoor skydiving arena

Ramana Reddy and Sushil Reddy Meda at Gravityzip, India’s first indoor skydiving. Inside the wind tunnel is Ilya and Viktor

Ramana Reddy and Sushil Reddy Meda at Gravityzip, India’s first indoor skydiving. Inside the wind tunnel is Ilya and Viktor | Photo Credit: Sanjay Borra

Arch your back, follow the instructors’ signals, relax your body and float. This is the summary of the brief instruction session before going into the ‘pit’ at Gravityzip in Gandipet, near CBIT. Built on less than an half acre of land, Gravityzip, slated to open by the third week of April, is touted as India’s first indoor skydiving wind tunnel. 

Wondering what that means? It enables you to experience the thrill of a free-fall from a plane or a parachute in a controlled environment: here, it is a wind tunnel that creates a smooth column of air, which one can ride on.

What is Gravityzip

I get a sneak peek of the arena. At three meters, this tunnel’s height is above average. (The average height of a tunnel is two meters and in some countries, it goes up to five metres.) The wind speed, which varies from person to person, and is also influenced by time and weather), is maintained between 200 kilometer and 400 kilometer. The structure at Gravityzip is made of steel because concrete cannot withstand the load of two turbines, which run on 800-kilowatt power, along with the generator required to generate the wind speed. 

Before I dive in, instructors Toporkov Ilya and Kozlov Viktor at Gravityzip explain what I will experience: strong wind and noise with the joy of floating in the air. Upon seeing the petite instructors my main concern however, was whether the instructor and the wind would able to lift the less-than-petite me. Ilya, one of the expatriate trainers from Russia, also a professional skydiver, assures me that I will “float like a leaf”.  

The preparation

Before slipping into an airtight jumpsuit, made of a combination of spandex, nylon and cotton, I am asked to remove jewellery, shoes and watch. Then I am given a lace-up shoe and helmet. With the helmet casually tucked under my arm, feeling like Tom Cruise in Top Gun, I enter the waiting tube.

Once I am in, Viktor, signals to the technicians, and the wind gains speed. On his signal, I fall facedown, with my back arched, hand up. I do so, and much to my surprise, just like that I am floating. After a bit of struggle to stay in one spot, and then go higher, I remember the last pro tip by the instructor—’relax and you will float.’

Inside India’s first indoor skydiving facility

Inside India’s first indoor skydiving facility | Photo Credit: Sanjay Borra

The feeling is difficult to describe. It’s almost like diving into the ocean. The roar of the tunnel reminds me of the sound of a powerful waterfall during the monsoon. I feel the wind rushing past my bare palms it is strong and cold but not chilling. Then I rise up in a smooth swirl and drop down gently, still floating, when it is time to exit the tunnel, it is with the help of the instructors inside.

The founders

Gravityzip was started by Ramana Reddy and Sushil Reddy Meda. The duo envisioned this project in 2018, hoping it will be up and running by the summer of 2020. Ramana Reddy, CEO and founder says “The pandemic didn’t just upset us. It made everything uncertain for all of us. We were determined not to give up because we wanted to see this indoor skydiving wind tunnel in Hyderabad.”

Sushil Reddy, founder and CMO says the choice to start something like this in Hyderabad worked to their advantage as they found a good pool of talent to help them execute their plan technically. “Machinery is a big part of the project, technology is even bigger. All the machinery is imported from European countries and the technical support is from here. Everything is monitored by the machinery suppliers.” 

The team of Gravityzip with the founders Ramana Reddy and Sushil Reddy Meda

The team of Gravityzip with the founders Ramana Reddy and Sushil Reddy Meda | Photo Credit: Sanjay Borra

Ramana adds that setting up the ‘pit’ is not just about machinery, it is a combination of thermodynamic, aerodynamic, steel and concrete. “It is like setting up an industry.”

Gravityzip is on the Gandipet Road, Kokapet, near Gooncha hills, before Chaitanya Bharathi Institute of Technology (CBIT) campus

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2022 9:28:43 am |