Thursday, April 2, 2009

In Short...

I flew today. After spending Wednesday in and out of a coma caused by the flight drugs, Thursday came with much anticipation. The day started with a lightning lockdown in the hangar while Mallory, Jim, Kyle, and I were in our mission briefing. After a slight delay, we lined up to board the plane. With the wind in my hair and Kenny Loggins (Highway to the Danger Zone) in my head, I donned my Aviators and boarded G-FORCE ONE. The flight out to the Gulf was an anxious one. We had made the journey previously, only to return due to weather prior to the parabolas. This time the flight would proceed.

The first test went smoothly. We realized that we would be able to get two trials in per parabola. I decided that I didn’t need to be sitting to operate the computer interface. With my hands on the box for support, I proceeded to operate the experiment suspended in a handstand. Mallory was amazingly fast. Her quick maneuvers in the glove box allowed us to get two trials done per parabola. We were on track to finish early. Our enemy decided to strike again, however. The turbulence over the Gulf became too great for us to get in all of our scheduled parabolas. We were told we only had a few lunar left. Luckily for the team, we had doubled our parabolas and were on track to finish the test. We ended up collecting all of the data in time for a successful mission. We were left with one lunar, one Martian, and one zero-G that we could use for “secondary research.”

The last lunar was spent jumping around and running up the walls. I managed to pull myself up and walk on the ceiling of the plane. Martian gravity followed. I managed to pull off a reduced gravity version of Conan O’Brien’s String Dance. Hopefully it was captured on camera. Lastly, we had three zero-G parabolas. These were incredible. The sensation is difficult to put into words. "Pure Awesome" is close. The best way I can describe it is that it is like being suspended under water, but under normal pressure and no control. I had anticipated being able to swim around and float about, but I exhibited no such control in this environment. It is a struggle to even keep from flailing about. I always thought that floating would be somewhat like a rollercoaster. I was very wrong. There is no wind and you don’t actually realize that the plane is at a downward incline. It seems as if the gravity was just sucked out of the room and you are left floating. The only way to really express this sensation is to share the pictures and videos. I managed to lay my body parallel to the floor, but suspended in mid air. Meanwhile, Mallory showed off some yoga positions while Jim attempted to pull her around the cabin. Mallory and I both got the flip treatment and were wildly spun about the cabin. The feeling was surreal. I can't wait to share the pictures and videos.

(I have a much longer and detailed version of this post if anyone wants to read it).


  1. Wow! I am so glad that you all got to have this experience. I would love to read your whole post and can't wait to see more pics.