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Friday, March 28, 2014

THE DAY I FLEW LIKE SUPERMAN



(This was originally posted in Elisa's blog 1/10/12)

Three years ago, (now six & 1/2 years ago) I gave myself the thrill of a lifetime.  For my 74th birthday I went on a zero gravity flight.  This was the same kind of plane the astronauts trained in--not a simulator.  Since I walk with a cane, my husband asked me how I thought I would be able to do that.  I told him that I wouldn’t be walking, I would be floating!  I was, of course, the oldest person on the flight.

We took off from Burbank, CA in a stripped down 727 (about 35 seats left on the plane & all in the back) & quickly gained altitude.  Just like when you’re on a roller coaster & you feel yourself lifting out of your seat on the downhill runs you lessen gravity when the plane is in a steep dive.  The angle of the dive determines how strong the pull of gravity is.  This climbing & diving arc is called a parabola.  The astronauts called it the “vomit comet” because they made so many parabolas.  Most people don’t feel nauseous until after 20 parabolas--our flight had 15.  Nobody got sick.  The low to zero gravity periods lasted about 15 seconds each.

Our instructors had us lie face down on the floor before each dive.  On the first dive gravity was that of Mars--about 1/3 of Earth.  The next two were that of the moon--about 1/6 of Earth.  During these (& I am no athlete) I did one handed pushups to a standing position.

Parabolas 4-15 were zero gravity.  I pushed myself off the bulkhead, straightened my arms & flew like Superman.  I got into a fetal position & my instructor gave me a push & I rolled over & over in midair.  I laid on my back & linked arms with a few other people & we lifted our legs & did a backward somersault in unison.  We swallowed M&M’s and globules of water that were floating by.


It was--without a doubt--the most fun I ever had in my life, with or without my clothes on!  It was, however, very expensive, in the range of $5,000--& worth every cent!  (My philosophy is that money is like fertilizer--no good unless you spread it around.)  I sent each of my kids a thank you note since I figured it was coming out of their inheritance.  I did the same thing when I bought myself a BMW a few years before.  Yes, thank you, I am polite. 


This is the plane I was on:

I'm 3rd from the right, with my fellow astronauts.

See the redheaded girl below the “p” in "experience" above?  
I convinced her to take her hair out of the ponytail.
This is her with her dad & brother:

This is me, starting to float:

This is our in unison backward somersault:












This is a crazy story. For two decades, the secret launch code for America's nuclear missiles was 0000000000. Even more amazing, George W. Bush forgot it twice----Conan O'Brien (& fishducky)







26 comments:

  1. A zero gravity flight?
    Wow. and wow again. I would love to try that.

    Loved the last cartoon.

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  2. I often get the same effect after about ½ bottle of whisky.

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  3. It must be a very good experience for you!

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  4. All those smiling faces floating in 0 gravity....I found myself smiling right back at them.

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    Replies
    1. I STILL get excited when I talk about it!!

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  5. What an incredible and enviable experience.

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    1. ANYONE can do it--all you have to do is empty out your bank account!!

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  6. Oh Fran. What a magical, magical experience. I am still smiling. Cartoons good - your experience? EXCELLENT.

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    1. EXCELLENT doesn't even begin to cover it!!

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  7. Oh I am so envious. That had to be amazing. I'd best start saving my coins.

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  8. Wow! That sounds like it was quite an adventure!

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  9. What a fan-TAST-ic post! I just love that you were able to experience something so incredible, and your "thank you" notes to your kids was definitely a classy touch. No wonder we all love you so much.

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  10. All the places you have been, this must still have been the trip of a lifetime. It was so good to see you on my blog today. Take care. Samson sends licks.

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    1. This was DEFINITELY #1!! Kiss him for me, please.

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  11. So daring! So adventurous!

    The closest I got to flying like Superman was when I jumped off my grandpa's picnic table using an umbrella as a parachute. I failed to fly, and I was nothing like Superman.

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    1. My son used an umbrella when he was younger & jumped off our porch--one full story!! He didn't fly, either.

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  12. WOW … Fran! awesome… kudos!

    HAhaaa great cartoons! …. Savage Chickens???

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    1. You're a free spirit--you would LOVE it!!

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  13. I'd love to do this... in fact it's on one of my "watch" lists for when the kids get older. :) My 40 before 40 list is a bit simpler though... and keeps both of my feet on the ground (mostly).

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    1. I'd make an 80 before 80 list, but I'm afraid it would kill me!!

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Your comments make my day, which shows you how boring my life has become.