Swinerton Builders San Diego is nearing completion on Airborne America, an indoor skydiving facility in Downtown San Diego. Whereas most indoor skydiving centers have only one wind tunnel, Airborne has two. It is also much more high-end and complex, with a completely different tunnel system and componentry from its competitors.
A 30,000-square-foot facility, the team dug nearly 50 feet below-grade and built walls that were three feet thick. The basement area houses the motors and turning vanes needed for wind production. The wind shoots up through the mesh flooring and into the two tunnels, which reach 70 feet above-grade. Very thick acoustical panels muffle the sound, which would be deafening without them. The tunnels themselves are completely fiberglass, with no straight edges anywhere. Up to 12 people can be in each tunnel at once, allowing them to practice all sorts of crazy stunts and maneuvers. The military will be one of Airborne’s main clients, as they currently have to go to Perris, California for live training—and they have a huge backlog of certifications needed.
In addition to the two tunnels, the team also built a café/bar on the first floor, along with training, conference, equipment, and party rooms with a kitchenette on the second and third floors. To match the look of the tunnels, most of the remaining architecture is also round—even the HVAC diffusers are circular. There is a large glass pivot door at the main entry, along with a folding window that opens up for indoor/outdoor seating. The two tunnels have bleacher seating directly next to them, allowing guests to watch their friends and family in action. Swinerton’s San Diego-based Drywall group self-performed a significant amount of work, including all of the interior metal stud framing and drywall, the radius track system, and about 90% of the tunnel installation work.