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How Zero-gravity Flights Work


Taking the Plunge

Once the question-and-answer session is over, it's time to board the plane. Passengers sit in the rear of the plane, which looks like a normal 727, apart from the lack of windows. You'll fasten your seat belt, and the pilot will taxi the plane to the runway and take off just like any other flight. Once you reach cruising altitude, it's time to unbuckle your seat belt and move to the play area of the plane, where you'll lie down as you prepare for the first steep climb, during which the g-forces increase.

Each flight includes 15 parabolas -- a total of seven to eight minutes of reduced gravity.
Photo courtesy of Zero Gravity Corporation
Each flight includes 15 parabolas
-- a total of seven to eight
minutes of reduced gravity.

When the plane goes over the top of the highest point, a crew member will yell "Martian gravity," "Lunar gravity" or "zero gravity." At that point you can move about the play area, experiencing a reduced-gravity environment. The crew offer assistance and take pictures and video footage of your experience as you float, somersault, fly and bounce through the play area. When the plane begins to pull out of its dive, a crew member will yell, "feet down." This is your cue to orient yourself so that you may safely land on the floor as gravity gradually increases. You'll have to lie down again to prepare for the next climb.

Each flight includes 15 parabolas, which means you'll experience seven to eight minutes of reduced gravity. Once the plane completes the final parabolic arc, you'll return to the seating area and strap in for landing. Upon your return to the airport, you'll leave the plane to go to a post-flight party, complete with complimentary champagne and souvenirs.

" face="arial,helvetica" size="3">Martian and Lunar Gravity
By adjusting the curve of the flight path, the plane can simulate the gravity of Mars or the moon. The shape of the parabola is elongated and not as steep as the free-fall path. The resulting centrifugal force is weaker and only partially offsets the force of gravity.

Earth’s gravity is about three times stronger than Mars’ and about six times stronger than Lunar gravity.


In the next section, we'll find out how the Boeing 727-200 was retrofitted to withstand the force of 15 parabolic arcs.­