So this guy walks into a drop zone and says, “I need a loud mouth skinny Mexican.” After a brief pause the man is asked why and his reply, “I have a wind machine in my back yard.”
Next thing I know Florez is randomly questioning this guy and all he can get out of him is that he built this wind machine in his backyard and needs a skinny Mexican to fly in it to see if it works. Seems he found a DC prop and a big engine. That’s about all we have to go on, oh, and it’s like a couple miles away. Now, I envied the kid with the half-pipe in the backyard, but a wind tunnel machine thingy, that’s pretty cool. Once the guy left it was back to the grind of otter props, blue skies and chasing adrenaline, leaving plenty of time to dream of the machine.
After a couple of beers and the often occasional DZ aftermath distraction, Jhonathan lead the charge. We just had to go for a look. Big engine, spinning meat grinder, lots of wind, sure, sign us up! No lie, there it is. A contraption in a backyard of monumental proportion, right down the street from the DZ. OH, the crazy thoughts of gold rush just oozed from our skydiver pores. Big suits, check. Ear plugs, check. Helmet, uhhhh, check. Ok, I will hold the camera for the first round. You should go first.
Years ago, around 1990. I happened across one of the first wind machines ever built. I think it was the Clive Ure AiroFly. I remember being in awe the first time I saw it. I was lucky enough to hang around to test while he tweaked it. Those memories rushed back as I stood in front of this insane carney ride before us. And a carney ride it is, totally portable on a trailer. A lot smaller than the ones John used to run at the World Free Fall Conventions, but hey, let’s go fly. If you are interested in windtunnels in general, history, etc, check out The Body Flight Network.
Back to the skinny Mexican: So it seems the business model is to have people fly/wrestle in masks. It’s a very popular sort of wrestling, somewhere. That’s all I could get out of it. OH, and there is a hoop for playing a ball game against another opponent. No, really. I’m not making this stuff up.
After some serious squirming through nets, bungee cords, and tie-down straps, you are inside a very small column of air surrounded by nets and staring straight down on the prop. Room enough for one flyer. Best guess on airspeed is about 90+-MPH. The experience was very anticlimactic and challenging. Opening the zippers on the suits helped, but the beers beforehand really made the difference. I have to say, no matter what, the thing is pretty cool.
Before all of us flew, we overheated the behemoth motor and that was it, done. Jhonathan Florez completely broke the thing and then begins to tell the guy how to change his business model and how he has his own wrestling masks. Life can get strange when you pay attention.
The owner, Stewart Gong, said he just wanted to build it. He told us the dream of the wrestling, the idea of the game. He said it was all just for fun. He even made a complete replica of the “Green Hornet” Car. Stewart is super nice guy living the American dream as an inventor, entrepreneur and businessman. His day job is distributing and renting the Flyboard. The Flyboard is that crazy water rocket toy you fly on. Hopefully that will be next weeks adventure.
I can totally see dragging kids in there to fly, right on the DZ. All I need is a microphone and a speaker. Step right up! I can hear the carnival music in the background. All in all another great day. You just never know what the dirt devils will blow into the hanger at Lodi.