My very first headstand (Credit Steve Boxall; Zero G)
Ever since I was young when the number on my scale was higher than I had hoped and I shopped in the husky department I always wondered what it would be like to be weightless. In gym I would watch my classmates do somersaults, cartwheels and pushups while I stood with feet firmly on the ground.
So you can imagine the joy I experienced as I did a one arm pushup, somersaulted in midair and flew like Superman, light as a feather.
That’s what happens when you take the Zero-G flight. Yes, its more expensive than a park hopper at Disney World but it is cheaper than a first class ticket on many international flights and there are no lines and lots of legroom.
My day began at the east side helipad, home of charter helicopter company, Blade, where we were issued our flight suits. (We get to keep these! WOW!) We were instructed what we were about to experience. We will be flying in a modified Boeing 727 aircraft – modified with minimal seats and padded walls, floors and yes ceiling.
I was one of 6 in my group; but, there were other teams in the plane all designated by our issued color coordinated compression knee socks to help our blood circulation during weightlessness.
Our flight was to consist of 15 parabolic arcs (a term I had not heard since my high school days in Geometry class). These arcs would be like a rollercoaster ride but at altitudes between 24,000 and 32,000 feet. At the top of each arc we would plunge into a 30 degree nosedive which would give us 30 seconds of weightlessness.
Each of the 15 parabolic experiences would be different, the first three were not totally weightless experiences but more like walking on Mars or the moon, allowing for us to take a bounce higher than any pro basketball player (thank goodness for the padded ceiling) or do a one finger pushup (look at me now, Mr Healy, my high school gym teacher.)
The flight took off from Newark Airport, all passengers buckled in and given the standard speech by our flight attendant, Deb. We would be flying for about an hour until we reached our FAA-designated air space which was “approximately 100 miles long and 10 miles wide” according to the Zero-G website. At our destination we unbuckled, walked to our designated section of the empty fuselage, lied flat on our back and waited to be unweighted by earth’s gravity. At first you feel the added gravity from the ascent of the plane and then a lightness that overwhelms. You don’t just automatically float, you need to push yourself up from the floor but soon you are bouncing happily like a 6 year old in one of those jumping castles.
In each parabola you try to have a different experience: a midair somersault, run up the walls and over the ceiling, a headstand. The Zero-G team comes with props: footballs to throw, jellybeans to catch in your mouth, droplets of water to slurp in midair and of course you have to fly through the air like Superman.
After our fifteenth parabola it was time to return to our seats but our hearts and spirits were still floating on air as some of sat silently reliving the experience in our minds or laughed with each other at how we flew, bumped tumbled through the air.
When we touched ground we exited the airplane one by one where the name tags on our flight suits are turned right side up to prove that we are now experienced Zero G fliers.
A helicopter flight back to New York with beautiful views of Central Park, the Empire State Building and the new Hudson Yards way above New York’s latest tourist attraction, The Edge is a wonderful way to return to earth.
Back at Blade we were issued our own certificate that proved that we had defied gravity.
For more information on future flights.