After a cruisy couple of days in LA catching up with friends and doing a little shopping, it was time for the purpose of the trip – a zero gravity flight with Zero Gravity Corporation.
I got the worst nights sleep ever, partially because I was so excited and partially because I was freaking out all night that the motion sickness information said you need to be well rested to minimize the chances of feeling sick, and I kept on waking up and telling myself to get back to sleep because I needed to be well rested! I felt better when I got out to Long Beach and found everyone else had done exactly the same thing, and the Zero G Corp team reassured us all that we’d be fine.
My hatred of being late always sees me arrive super early, and it paid off today as Tony Hawk was also there early, so I got to have a great chat with him and fellow skateboarder Aaron ‘Jaws’ Homoki before everyone else arrived and the briefing started. Such nice guys, and just as excited about the day ahead as the rest of us.
We had our briefing, got into our flight suits (& discovered we got to keep them, which amped up my excitement level even further!) and headed out to the plane.
The plane is a converted commercial aircraft (let’s be clear, it’s a pretty significant conversion and one that took 11 years of testing to have all the approvals granted), with a few rows of seats at the back and everything forward of that best described as like a padded cell divided into 3 areas by colored tape on the floor.
We divided up into 3 groups, Tony, Jaws and their crew were up the front in one section while the rest of us were split between the other two. The colour of our socks told us which area to stick to (or scurry back to if we found our enthusiastic weightless zooming had taken us to another zone!)
After a quick flight up into our designated airspace it was time for the action to start. We all left our seats and lay down on the floor in our designated area, eyes firmly fixed on a point on the ceiling as instructed to reduce the risk of motion sickness. As we climbed into the ascent of the first parabola we felt the G force build (only to 1.8) and raised our limbs to test out the feeling of heaviness, which initially was bizarre, but by the time we’d done half of the 15 parabolas I honestly didn’t even notice the G force pressure.
The initial parabola puts you into Martian gravity, or equivalent to what you would experience walking on Mars. You feel 1/3 of your body weight, making push ups easy, I could even do one handed for the first time ever! The feeling of weightlessness for the first time is indescribable, we were all completely blown up. As we came to the end of that first parabola, it’s a quick sit down to lie down again and go into the next uplift cycle.
When we hit the top of the second cycle it was time for lunar gravity, the equivalent of walking on the moon. Here you feel 1/6 of your body weight, making burpies a breeze – said no one in full gravity ever!
After one cycle of Martian and two of Lunar, it was time for the real deal. Zero Gravity, where you are fully weightless and can zoom around the cabin like something you see in the movies.
Despite being told not to jump or ‘swim’ in the briefing, it was the first thing I did and shot myself straight into the roof of the plane, then tried to recover with limbs flailing everywhere. I wasn’t the only one though, we all did the same thing and it took a couple of cycles for us to find our ZeroG groove.
By the time we were past 6 we were used to how little effort it took, and were having loads of fun chasing around the water bubbles that the coaches poured into the air, plus throwing out candies and then trying to gobble them up like PacMan – the pics of all the cool stuff were taken by the onboard photographer and will follow later, we were all too busy enjoying the experience to worry about our phones or taking pictures!
At the end of each parabola you’d hear ‘coming out, feet down’ and we’d all scramble to get out feet pointing downwards so we could move seamlessly back into our lying down position ready to take on the next vertical climb.
I didn’t feel even the slightest bit nauseous, and would have loved to have kept going for hours. Ironically, the only person to utilize the thoughtfully provided bags was Jaws, but he was pretty focused on doing as many spins as he possibly could so we all cut him some slack….
I can’t begin to describe how awesome the experience was, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It’s made me even more excited about my future trip to space with Virgin Galactic, which I didn’t think was possible! My only regret was I’d planned to activate the exercise tracker on my HealthBand before we got into the parabolas as I was curious to see what my heart rate and stats looked like in zero gravity, but I was so caught up in the excitement I completely forgot. Never mind, maybe that’s the perfect excuse to go again…