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How Zero-gravity Flights Work

Suiting Up

If you want to experience a zero-gravity flight, you can book a trip on G-FORCE-ONE -- a modified Boeing 727-200 -- through the ZERO-G Web site or at your local Sharper Image store for $3,500. The package includes your flight, unique merchandise and a post-flight celebration (or, depending on your point of view, a wake for your temporary dramatic weight loss). Passengers must be at least 15 years old if unaccompanied, or 12 if flying with a parent or guardian.

Motion Sickness
ZERO-G has a stigma to shake off -- that of the Vomit Comet, the name passengers gave to NASA’s zero-gravity flight programs. Many people who have taken a trip on NASA’s zero-gravity flights experienced severe motion sickness. ZERO-G’s focus is more on entertainment than research, and so they strive to reduce passenger discomfort.

According to the company, most people begin to experience motion sickness after the plane has traveled through 25 or more parabolic arcs -- the company limits G-FORCE-ONE to 15 arcs per trip [Source: Zero Gravity Corporation]. The company also provides Dramamine for passengers prone to motion sickness.

After you book your flight, the company will mail you a packet of information and forms to fill out. Forms include a waiver and statement that you are not suffering from any conditions or illnesses that could become worse during the flight. Some passengers may need to obtain a doctor's permission before the company allows them to go on the experience.

On the day of your flight, you'll travel to the appropriate location -- normally either McCarren International Airport in Las Vegas or the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Once you're at the airport, you'll have to check in with the flight center where you'll receive your own flight suit.

NASA’s KC-135A in a 45-degree ascent.
Photo courtesy of NASA
NASA’s KC-135A in a
45-degree ascent.

You'll then enjoy a light meal (you wouldn't want to fill up before throwing your sense of equilibrium out of whack) provided by the company before watching an orientation and safety video. The video is a mandatory part of the experience, and the company is serious about showing it to every passenger. If you leave during the video for any reason, you will have to watch the entire video again uninterrupted before the company allows you on the flight. After the video, passengers participate in a question-and-answer session with the flight crew.

In the next section, we'll find out what it's like to do a somersault in zero gravity.