Have you always wanted to experience zero gravity, doing somersaults in midair like an astronaut? Your chance is coming this spring.
Zero-G, a company that offers weightless flights on a modified Boeing 727 in Las Vegas, Miami, Orlando, and San Francisco, is bringing the experience to 12 cities across the nation this year, landing May 3 at Portsmouth International Airport at Pease in New Hampshire.
“We’re the only one the FAA has licensed to do parabolic flights with passengers,” said Matt Gohd, CEO of Zero Gravity Corporation, which is headquartered in Virginia. “It’s the single most unique experience you will ever have. A lot of people say it’s life-changing.”
Some of the celebrities who have taken the Zero-G plunge include Martha Stewart, Ozzy Osbourne, Keith Urban, Joey Fatone, Amy Grant, and Buzz Aldrin.
Once registered, flyers fill out a medical history form and receive pre-flight instructions.
“The first thing we tell you not to do is: don’t drink the night before,” Gohd said.
Alcohol is not a good idea because it affects your senses and equilibrium, he said. Also, it’s important to eat carbohydrates the morning of your flight, which is why the company “highly encourages” passengers to eat the muffins, bagels, and croissants prepared for them before they go up, Gohd said. It’s rare that people get airsick during flights, but when they do, it’s usually because they don’t follow those instructions, Gohd said.
The plane, called G-Force One, flies in an FAA-designated airspace that’s about 100 miles long and 10 miles wide.
“After we get to our initial cruising altitude, which is about 25,000 feet, we start what are called these parabolic maneuvers,” Gohd said. “Literally it’s coming up and around and creating an arc. The top of that arc to a little bit past the bottom of that arc is where we’re creating that weightless experience.”
The parabolic maneuvers take place between 25,000 feet and 34,000 feet, he said. You’ll experience 15 parabolas during the two-hour trip, which last 15 to 30 seconds each. In between parabolas, passengers stabilize on the aircraft floor.
During the first parabola, flyers experience Martian gravity, which is one-third of their weight, Gohd said, and during the second parabola, they experience lunar gravity, which is one-sixth of their weight.
“You are going up further and coming down slower and you’re starting to get the feel of less and less gravity,” he said. “So we do two of those cycles to get people acclimated with the different forms of gravity.”
The remaining parabolas create a zero gravity experience, he said.
“You push yourself off the mat and you’re going to keep going until something stops you,” Gohd said. “And that could be the ceiling, that could be a wall, it could be another person. And then you’re getting into it, you’re doing flips, you’re doing twists, you’re hanging upside down. You’re giddy. It’s like the coolest thing ever.”
Once passengers are used to moving around in zero gravity, the staff has some fun with them, Gohd said.
“At one point we bring out bottles of water, which is fun,” Gohd said. “We open up the water and globules of water will come and people will try to bite the water. Or we’ll bring out candy and people are trying to toss candy to each other and catch it.”
But forget about posting to social media while you’re weightless, because the plane doesn’t have WiFi, Gohd said.
As for the plane’s safety record, Gohd said: “It is 100 percent safe. We’ve never had, even remotely, an incident.”
The cost is $5,400, which includes a flight suit, professional photos and videos, merchandise such as a T-shirt, and a certificate of weightless completion. Passengers need to be at least 8 years old, and children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
The event at Pease will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Participants must register ahead of time.