Nestled alongside Fort Bragg on highway 401 in Raeford, North Carolina, lies Paraclete XP, the world’s largest and most powerful vertical wind tunnel. The building itself is over 100 ft high and laid out like a sideways figure eight so that the air can be recirculated through underground tunnels and back up through the 16.5 foot diameter flying chamber by four 541hp electric fans.
Military and civilian skydivers utilize this wind tunnel as a training tool, however “bodyflight,” as it is known, is quickly becoming a sport of its own as more vertical wind tunnels are built around the world each year. The secret behind the wind tunnels power is a bank of “airfoil-shaped aluminum turning vanes tucked into each corner of the tunnel. If you laid them end to end they would extend almost three miles.” The wind tunnel is built only a miles from Fort Bragg and does much of its business giving free-fall training to the soldiers in the “Special Warfare School” located at the base.
But anyone wanting to get in touch with their inner Peter Pan can try their hand at flying after a classroom session with an instructor, though unlike Never Never Land, there is a hefty fee to fly.
Know Before You Go
Between Raeford and Fayetteville, NC on Hwy 401.