(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
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)