Skydive L.I. looks to build indoor ‘skydiving’ tunnel at EPCAL

06/06/2013 5:00 PM |

COURTESY PHOTO | People skydiving in a vertical wind tunnel.

Afraid of heights but love a thrill, nonetheless?

Well, Skydive Long Island has a new plan in the works that involves skydiving without jumping out of a plane.

The company, based sine 2000 at the Enterprise Park at Calverton, plans to build a vertical wind tunnel on David Court property.

“There’s a thing called indoor skydiving,” said Ray Maynard, SkyDive Long Island’s owner. “You basically have fans blowing the air up at about 156 mph.”

People in the wind tunnel stand in a cylinder that’s about 14 feet high and 16 feet wide and are lifted off the ground and suspended in air by the giants fans, he explained.

“You feel what a free fall feels like without having to worry if your parachute is going to open up,” Mr. Maynard said.

Indoor skydiving is not weather-dependent, it’s a little safer than regular skydiving and children as young as 3 can do it, Mr. Maynard said, although he doesn’t plan to allow kids that young to participate.

He outlined his plan Monday to the Riverhead industrial Development Agency, as he expects to seek IDA tax incentives for the proposed facility.

The vertical wind tunnel would measure 100 by 100 feet and would rise four stories high, Mr. Maynard said and will cost about $4.5 million to $5 million. He plans to build it on the same EPCAL property where Skydive currently operates.

“People who skydive with me presently are driving to New Hampshire or North Carolina to do this, and are spending thousands of dollars a week to do so,” Mr. Maynard told the IDA. “We would be the first such facility in the New York area.”

The wind tunnel will probably double the amount of visitors SkyDive gets, Mr. Maynard said, in part because it can operate year-round, whereas sky diving takes place only between April and November.

He told the IDA board that between 20 and 40 employees would be required to operate and maintain the wind tunnel.

IDA members seemed receptive to the plan, although executive director Tracy Stark-James said the project would also need variances for height and setback distances from the Zoning Board of Appeals and a variance from the Conservation Advisory Committee for being within 150 feet of a wetland.

IDA members said they expect to hold a public hearing on the request for tax abatements sometime in September. The IDA can give tax abatements for mortgage recording tax, sales tax on building supplies and on the assessed value increase of the improvements to the property.

Mr. Maynard said it would probably take about nine months to build the wind tunnel.

“Do you think you might have a zip line too?” IDA member Paul Thompson asked, jokingly referring to a recent proposal to put a zip line along the Peconic River in downtown Riverhead.

tgannon@timesreview.com