Local News

Wind Tunnel May Blow Into Hoke County

Posted January 17, 2007 5:40 p.m. EST
Updated June 18, 2010 2:00 p.m. EDT

— What’s billed as the largest recreational wind tunnel in the world could be blowing into Hoke County soon, but some neighbors hope that plan changes direction.

Businessman Tim D'Annunzio said wants to bring a wind tunnel similar to SkyVenture Colorado in suburban Denver. However, the one he’s planning would be even bigger.

"I just think from a business standpoint, it would very successful,” D'Annunzio said.

D'Annunzio said the wind tunnel could be used for paratrooper training for Fort Bragg, or just for fun.

“I'm selfish,” he said. “I'm a skydiver. My background is in skydiving."

The venture would be called Paraclete XP, and its proposed location is along U.S. Highway 401 near the Cumberland County line.

But neighbors have said they fear the wind tunnel would whip up a whirl of noise. They also said a wind tunnel could send their property values into a free fall.

“The wind tunnel is not exactly wanted in this neighborhood,” said Susan Ekstrom, who lives in the Quail Hollow community. “(The fear is) that the wind tunnel will bring a lot of unwanted attention into the neighborhood.

Last month, D'Annunzio chartered a jet to send two Hoke County commissioners, the county manager and other county officials to see and hear the Colorado wind tunnel for themselves. He said he wasn't trying to win the county's favor by providing a trip.

"It's not like we sent them out there and they spent a week out there skiing in Colorado and they just went by and saw the tunnel,” he said. “They went out there for nothing but seeing the tunnel."

Commissioners will have their final vote Monday night. If approved, the wind tunnel could be operating by June.