Meet Nico Gonzalez
Instructor & Coach at iFly Westchester and Indoor Skydiving Ninja Extraordinaire.
We asked Nico what people should keep in mind when they decide that they want to start learning indoor skydiving in the wind tunnel.
Here is what he had to say:
As you advance in your flying you will start to notice a lot of different ways of flying. There's 4 main disciplines and they all have different branches of moves you can learn as you advance. Since it's easier to explain using competition rules that's what this outline will be based on.
Formation skydiving (FS)
This is what most people picture when they think of skydiving. It is the oldest discipline when it comes to formations and can be done from 2 to 8 (maybe more) people at a time. Formations can get ridiculously complicated and it is a very competitive discipline. For this type of flying the suits will usually have booties to aid in faster turns and the lighter flyers in a team will sometimes wear weight belts to match fall rates. FS consists of a predetermined set of formations that the team has to go through as fast and accurately as possible. Each formation has specific grips that that flyers have to get in order to get points.
Vertical formation skydiving (VFS)
VFS deals in formations just like FS but now it includes 3 more flying positions: back flying, head up, and head down. Both FS and VFS fall under the static category (not moving around the whole tunnel). In VFS the competitors will take grips in different predetermined formations to get points as well. When in the tunnel we can't fly head down and belly in the same speed though, so they divide the rounds into high speed (head up/ head down) and low speed (belly back).
This is the only discipline in the list born out of tunnel flying. It is basically a race. The teams consist of 2 or 4 flyers and they must do a specific set of moves making sure to cross from a specific part of the tunnel to another. It is almost impossible to explain just in type so I won't go into it here. The main element about dynamic flying is that unlike FS and VFS, the flyers are always moving (hence the name) and they don't ever touch (supposedly). The progression in dynamic is very difficult and takes longer to master in my opinion.
This is a discipline that is always growing and always changing. As the name suggests it is completely free, so it includes every type of flying and a lot of moves that don't fall into any other category. This is where the more creative thrive. While it is very beautiful and looks effortless when done well, this is the hardest discipline since the moves usually include spins and weird body positions. The progression in freestyle is also almost completely up to the flyer.
Nico has been an indoor skydiving coach and instructor since 2014. He placed first in open freestyle at the Woodlands IBA Competition in 2016 and competes year-round. He also runs an amazing podcast dedicated to indoor skydiving: ostrichflight.com