Locations throughout U.S.A.
If the words, “T minus 30 seconds and counting . . . ” make your heart race in anticipation, here’s an adventure for you. Leave the gravitational pull of the earth behind and join other would-be astronauts in the same kind of zero gravity environment that NASA trainers used to prepare Buzz Aldrin, Alan Shepard, and other space jockeys. There’s nothing to compare to the feeling of weightlessness that adventurers can experience on a Zero Gravity flight — floating, flying, bouncing, and somersaulting through the air is guaranteed to thrill even the most jaded earthling.
The fun begins after check-in and orientation at one of Zero Gravity’s training facilities located nationwide; past flights have started from Las Vegas, New York, Seattle, and Cape Canaveral, Florida. The 5-hour day includes a few warm-up periods where fliers experience Martian gravity (about one-third of earth’s gravity), then lunar gravity (one-sixth of earth’s gravity), and finally several periods of zero gravity, which resemble recess at the world’s zaniest playground. Catching a floating blob of water in your mouth? No problem. Executing a perfect 360-degree somersault? Easy. Levitating in midair like a swami? Child’s play.
The weightless environment is achieved in a specially designed Boeing 727 that conducts graceful up-and-down maneuvers called parabolic arcs. After climbing to 34,000 feet (10,200m), the plane slowly levels off, dips, then climbs again. These maneuvers are repeated 12 to 15 times, giving fliers several opportunities to practice their floating and flying skills.
Besides the most excitement you’ve had in years, the Zero-G Experience also includes your own flight suit (which looks like something straight out of The Right Stuff), other Zero-G merchandise, a Regravitation Celebration, a certificate of weightless completion, as well as photographs and a video of your weightless experience. And if you’re thinking about a celebration or family reunion that guests will never forget, group flights can also be chartered. Though the price of the Zero-G flight may be sky-high (around $5,000 per person), those who would like to join in the fun but stay on the ground can pay less to participate in orientations and post-flight celebrations for a more reasonable fee (about $200 per person).
Folks like physicist Stephen Hawking and Martha Stewart have described Zero Gravity flights as “amazing” and “wonderful.” Even former astronauts like Rick Searfoss and Buzz Aldrin, who called the flight “exhilarating,” claim that they still have dreams of weightlessness. The flights have gained such popularity that a couple in 2009 decided to have their wedding in zero gravity—weightlessness, they decided, is a lot like falling in love.
Zero-G Experience ( 888/664-7284; www.gozerog.com).
When to Go: Flights are scheduled throughout the year at various U.S. locations; charter flights are also available.