Posted: 6:45 p.m.
Construction of a free fall simulator at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground continues into its tenth month.
When this $10 million project is finished, paratroopers will train in the vertical wind tunnel.
Before parachuting from airplanes during military operations, paratroopers simulate the experience.
"Air is coming up, and they stand at the door, and they basically just fall into place. They don't fall, they just hover because that air going 140 miles an hour lets them hover in place," said Leo Pilkington, president of Pilkington Commercial Co.
Monday, construction crews began lifting the panels that will hold the 75-foot structure--what will be the largest vertical wind tunnel in the world.
It's a tall order that comes with high expectations.
"When we're done here, you're going to see more support structures being built here. There's talk of maybe even a hangar and some other facilities. So I can see that this program is going to come here full force," said Ernesto Elias, project engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
YUMA PROVING GROUND--When construction is finished, military paratroopers will simulate free falling at YPG's vertical wind tunnel.
Elias added that the program will be cost-effective.
"We will be saving tax payers a lot of money. At least $10 million a year."
That's because paratroopers won't have to use expensive commercial schools, Elias said.
Yuma's Pilkington Construction is building this tunnel.
All sub-contractors are from the Yuma area, Pilkington said.
"That money is staying here in Yuma. Having all those contractors here is making this project more efficient as well," Pilkington said.
The tunnel will measure more than 16 feet in diameter and will fit up to eight fully geared paratroopers at once.
This project is expected to be completed by January 5, 2014.