Updated: Aug 30, 2019
The fact that some 200 vertical wind tunnels operate in 60 countries around the world does suggest that indoor skydiving is a boom industry. Particularly so, if one considers that 75% of the tunnels have opened over the past ten years. However, one should never lose sight of the fact that each individual market has a ceiling when it comes to demand.
The San Diego City Council purchased an indoor skydiving facility comprising 2,500 square meters distributed on three floors in early 2018, after the foreclosure of Airborne San Diego, the previous owner, by the lenders had shot down operations. Airborne San Diego was open for business for less than one year and its shareholders ended up losing 30 million dollars. The lenders sold the premises eventually to the City Council for 7 million dollars. The City Council confirmed on 26 August 2019 that the vertical wind tunnel would be converted into a hub for homeless services. With minor construction and adaptation work expected to be completed by this fall, the spectacular downtown facility will become the anchor of the city’s care network for the homeless.
Principal owner of Airborne San Diego was Alan "Buzz" Fink, previously one of the proprietors of the SkyVenture Orlando wind tunnel (now iFLY Orlando). His intention was to open the San Diego facility as the flagship tunnel designed by another manufacturer (Aerolab) and then extend the Airborne concept to other American cities. As an operator of an established parachute center in the San Diego area, and with solid contacts to the military based nearby, he had plenty of confidence to go head-to-head against the iFLY San Diego tunnel that had opened months earlier. Well, it didn't work out as planned.
There are a number of companies offering consultancy services to prospective investors. They generally conduct viability studies to reduce the risks concerning the location to a minimum. The ISGS organizers invite representatives from this sector to elaborate on the specific approach they are taking during the summit.
Articles on the rise and fall of Airborne San Diego: