A $15 million glass wind tunnel is rising from the ground in central Queenstown.
The large building on Brecon St will soon house the resort’s newest adventure activity — indoor skydiving.
It will also be a first for New Zealand.
The iFLY Queenstown is a project between SKYVenture International, which manufactures iFLY wind tunnels, and Auckland-based couple Emma and Gary Beyer, former skydiving world champions from the United Kingdom and United States.
Newly appointed general manager Matt Wong and assistant general manager Anja Boehm had their first look inside the complex this week and were impressed by its scale.
“I always knew the infrastructure was going to be big but looking at it in person, it has got the wow factor,” Wong said.
The building work had been technical and the builders, innovative.
“As far as a customer facility is concerned, it’s got the ability to be a world-class product.”
It would still be some months before the build was complete and the business could open but it was the tail end of a big project.
“It’s very ambitious and a long time in the making. We’re just seeing the end of someone’s dream for six years.”
Wong and Boehm both have backgrounds in aviation — Wong has most recently been employed as general manager for Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters and Boehm as ground operations manager for NZone Skydive.
They are excited about being involved with a new business.
“That’s the kick I get,” said Wong. “It’s a new project and we’re building a team. It’s an opportunity for us to get the best people in Queenstown working for iFLY.”
Wong said he expected it to be successful with its central location, an amazing product, an ability to operate in all weather, and its ability to accommodate all ages — including three-year-olds.
Before business opens Wong will be spending time in Florida looking at similar facilities and how they operate.
Once open and operational he expects a staff of between 20 and 30 people will be required, including fully qualified instructors and ground crew.
iFLY technical breakdown
Model: 12R2 SkyVenture vertical wind tunnel
Air circulates with the help of two 3m wide fans each running at 500 horsepower (370 kW) which powers the airflow
Produces wind velocity of up to 270 kph in the chamber
As you get higher, the airflow slows down
The airflow is set at a slower speed for children or small adult and is instantly controllable throughout the flight
4.5m-tall tall all glass flight chamber, 3.6m diameter with a super-strong stainless steel mesh at your feet
Overall wind tunnel loop dimensions:
10.7m to top of tunnel with ducting above and below
77m length of tunnel in an enclosed loop which recirculates air (this makes it super energy efficient and very quiet compared to earlier models)
Building overall is 12m tall from street level and approximately 576sqm
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