Size and maximum airspeed are not the only considerations when deciding if a Vertical Wind Tunnel is suitable for skydiver training. Airflow consistency is perhaps more crucial than any other aspect of the experience when skydivers are learning to fly in sync with one another. Only an open jet vertical wind tunnel or where the fan(s) are located before the test section, such as the L1, can be unaffected by flyers entering the airstream. Designs where the fans are oriented above or after the flight area or test section, and where the air is contained within a pressurized test section, you will experience a "blockage effect" as flyers enter the airstream. The more flyers that enter, the more clogged it becomes, ultimately overtaxing the assembly and causing lag time in pressurization which results in airspeed loss.
L1 is capable of flying 4 way teams and big way practice without experiencing any fluctuations in air volume or speed, which in turn means more practice for the flyers dollar, no waiting for the airspeed to catch up, it's just always there, the same, no matter how many get in.
Needless to say, the open air environment of L1 is the most accurate simulation of freefall achievable without actually skydiving. There is no need for earplugs, there is nothing above you, next to you or behind you. The lack of walls around the air column provides a most realistic artificial skydiving environment,it sounds like freefall, it feels like freefall and while looking into the sky above the landscape, you feel as though your in freefall.
It allows the air column to expand through the test section beyond the area of the
It expands the flyable area by allowing experience flyers to use the edges and the area just outside the column
It creates a relaxed atmosphere for the student free from worry of impacting a hard surface during the learning process
It is attractive from every perspective. The flyer can be viewed from nearly any place, even from across the street or nearby businesses. Also the flyer is able to enjoy the views of the surrounding area, park or community.
It enables the bodyflyer to become much more efficient, and precise in their training.
It encourages the participant to be much more aware of their flying as there are less immediate
points of reference and no walls to stop them from falling out when they make a mistake.
Inevitably the flyer comes to rely on the true sensations of bodyflying, which are the awareness of your body while in the air, not in relation to a wall.
Vertical Wind Tunnel Corporation's L1 is not limited to only 12 feet like the prototype. Creating a tunnel from 8 feet to 16 feet would require some recalculations to produce. 12 feet was chosen as the first full size column diameter based on the theory that an air column wider than 12 feet for a skydive simulator or tourist facility is more than ample, while remaining cost effective to operate. Applications including theatrical entertainment, military use, or scientific testing would perhaps lean toward a different size/orientation depending on the intended application.
The "L-1" design was invented and optimized by Harold Larson, a world class aerodynamicist who worked on the fastest aircraft known to exist, and designed the worlds most efficient wind/electric generator. Thanks to his efforts, the "L-1" is the most efficient open circuit VWT design to date.