You know how tunnel instructors tell you to empty your pockets before you get into the wind tunnel?
They are not kidding. Here are the items I’ve seen pulverized from least expensive to most expensive.
And before you click away thinking this only applies to first-timers – it is not. These were experienced flyers with normal jumpsuits just like yours.
Some jumpers keep hook knives in special pockets on their jumpsuit. If they forget and the tunnel instructor does not catch it, there is a 100% chance it will be gone and destroyed. The financial outlay here is no big deal, but it damages the wind tunnel.
I do not know which teammate it was, but somebody had a Chapstick in their arm pocket. The Chapstick made a break for freedom while we were doing 4way. No big deal, right, just cheap lip balm?
The shrapnel from the plastic case started recirculating, and it hurt. My team was delayed almost an hour because the staff had to clear it out by shredding the rest of it. I still genuinely don’t know which teammate was the culprit because no one copped to it.
A released helmet usually is still functional. But it does get banged up as it bobbles around at the top and ping pongs down the walls as it floats down. Double-check your buckles.
Visors are more problematic since they shatter. Make sure yours are installed correctly.
It is fantastic to see your heart rate while tunneling, and I know many people do it. But I have seen two people lose and destroy theirs. That clasp isn’t that tight, and your jumpsuit sleeve probably won’t be enough to keep it on if it wiggles free while you are crushing some 4way.
Time for the more painful ones! I was flying with a student when I saw something fly out of an arm pocket. I assumed it was earplugs or maybe even a bit of cash when it flashed by. It turns out it was his car keys. Unfortunately, it was the electronic kind that does not have a working mechanical version in it.
We had a glimmer of hope when the instructor said they found the key. Hope that was quickly crushed when we saw the heap of electronics. The broken key bricked the car. With no way to start it, the student faced a 2.5-hour drive from his home (and backup key).
The painful lesson was driving all the way home and back to the tunnel the next day to sort it out.
Top car keys? How about a Rolex. I do not understand why you would wear an expensive watch into a tunnel (or even just a watch, actually). But he did. The clasp came loose. Completely obliterated the Rolex. He did not cry to his credit.
Years ago, in the Perris tunnel, we had a visitor come to fly. He was wearing a freefly suit with a zipper pocket on the leg. Not having anywhere else “safe” to put it, he stored $3000 in that pouch. The pocket came open almost instantly.
I wasn’t there to witness this in person; I can only imagine it looked like one of those game show’s cash grab booths. They found a couple of the bills intact enough to get serial numbers, but most were just gone.
I know it was gone because this was when I was a poor fledgling member of Perris Fury. We spent a couple of hours wandering around the fields the next day, hoping to find a couple of $100 bills.
Moral? Unless you want your prized possession on a very special episode of “Will it blend?”, keep it out of the wind tunnel.