Article was written by Greg DiFortuna, PussFoot Athlete and Member of The Mamba Spirit
The tunnel and the sky work really well together and with the right combination, you can become a master of all disciplines relatively quickly in comparison to the pre-tunnel days of skydiving.
I started jumping in 2007 and at the time there weren’t many options for tunnels and if you had the money and regular access to one you were one of the elite. Now with tunnels in pretty much every major city in the world (almost) the chances to improve your skill set are much higher which lends itself to creating better flyers and more awareness in the sky.
The difference is that the tunnel requires more control and conditioning, heck it's a different beast altogether. Because of the proximity and resistance, you are forced to fly more efficient to create the results you are looking for in the sky.
Just because you’re a sky ninja doesn’t mean you’re a tunnel ninja. It definitely helps, but going through the proper progression to minimize risk in the tunnel is incredibly important especially if you’re an overconfident skydiver who has never flown in the tunnel. No, you can’t just hop in and sit fly. You see it a lot working in the tunnel, skydivers that come in for the first time with a few hundred jumps and think they are just going to hop in and shred but are severely disappointed with the outcome, because it turns out they have a lot of bad habits and are forced to fly on their back and belly for safety reasons and end up telling everyone that the tunnel stupid and its a waste of money.
The tunnel transfers very well to the sky but the one issue we have with this is the “Tunnel Rat”. The dude/dudette with 100+ hours of tunnel time that has never skydived but is ultra confident of his/her skills. Sure you maybe able to pull off a 6 point head down sequential on your 10th jump, but things like wind, altitude/drop zone awareness, exit, break off and canopy skills play a great deal into this.
Taking your tunnel skills to the sky and your sky skills to the tunnel should be treated with respect and awareness. There is a great melding here that can create better and safer skydives so let's have fun and learn as much as much we can.
To learn more about Greg, check out his athlete profile page