G-FORCE ONE, a specially modified Boeing 727, brings the experience of weightlessness to the public.
January 23, 2022
By Laurie Hanson
OThe absence of eight is not just for astronauts in space, but can now be experienced by the public at Long Beach Airport with the Zero-G Experience® coming February 11.
“The experience offered by Zero-Gravity Corporation is the only commercial opportunity on earth for individuals to experience true ‘weightlessness’ without going to space,” said CEO Matt Gohd. “The Zero-G Experience® and The Big Game have teamed up for a unique opportunity to experience true weightlessness.” This happens over a 5-hour period aboard G-FORCE ONE, a specially modified Boeing 727-200 as it performs 15 parabolic maneuvers.
As a modified Boeing 727-200, the G-FORCE ONE’s improved hydraulic system allows for continuous hydraulic pressure during parabolic performance. This modification, as well as the addition of accelerometers in the cockpit, have been evaluated and approved by the FAA. No structural changes were made to the interior or exterior of the aircraft, according to Gohd.
“What excites me the most is creating the story, the story of this family who took this [flight] together and will forever be remembered, the history the company made by piloting Stephen Hawking, taking 12 exceptional people with severe disabilities and giving them the dream of space,” he said. “[A] history in the research we allow, and [how] it is accessible at a fraction of the cost of others.
Gohd came to work for the company two years and two months ago and was drawn to Zero-Gravity Corporation’s attention to detail, excellent service and quality of experience.
“Combined with the exciting history behind it, it has laid the foundation for exhilarating adventure tourism,” he added.
As a child, Gohd was a self-proclaimed science and space nerd, who built large telescopes and loved the stars and Star Trek. He said he started out in flight and space travel with a “great team and amazing people,” while asking lots of questions every day.
“My career was in finance, where I helped small businesses grow bigger, and as I got older I accumulated wisdom, which made me a good problem solver,” said- he added. Although the company was in deep trouble and about to close when Gohd boarded Zero-G, he was undeterred.
“What drives me is a company that impacts those with dreams, the ability to pursue research essential to the pursuit of space, and to create value for my dedicated employees who are all stakeholders as well as investors who have entrusted me with their capital,” Gohd explained. .
The company had already survived 11 years of FAA safety regulation and procedural scrutiny. But eventually, Zero-G’s three co-founders, Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Dr. Byron K. Lichtenberg (a veteran astronaut), and Ray Cronise (a NASA engineer) got approval for G- FORCE ONE takes passengers on commercial parabolic flights. .
In August 2004, Zero-G conducted its first commercial flight operating under the same safety standards of all major airlines. It established its own place in the extreme tourism industry as the first and only commercial weightless flight for the public. In April 2006, Zero-G became the first commercial company to obtain permission from Kennedy Space Center to use the shuttle’s runway and landing facilities to operate its zero-gravity flights.
“We started flying from Long Beach a few years ago, but we’ve been on the west coast since our inception,” Gohd said. “We will be flying from Long Beach and Oakland, Las Vegas, Austin and Houston, TX, Kennedy Space Center, Miami, FL and New York, NY. We plan to fly 2-3 times a week in 2022.”
“Zero-G has provided thousands of people with the ability to experience weightlessness, including Stephen Hawking, Martha Stewart and Buzz Aldrin,” he added. “Zero-G is not only aimed at private customers, but also at various organisations. National Geographic, Nick News and Discovery Channel have all flown on G-FORCE ONE. We’ve also been featured on NBC’s The Today Show, Biggest Loser and The Apprentice.
“The interior of G-FORCE ONE has been modified to allow for maximum floating space,” he said. “The seats are at the back of the plane. The floating area is divided into sections and padded from floor to ceiling with a rope that runs down each side of the aircraft. To board the G-FORCE ONE, stairs open from the tail of the aircraft to the seating area.
ZERO-GRAVITY COMPANY brings the astronaut experience of zero gravity to the masses in Long Beach and other cities across the United States. Customers can experience 15 parabolic flight maneuvers that catapult them floating 30 seconds at a time through the air.
Pilots are specially trained to fly the Boeing 727 in a parabolic maneuver, according to Gohd.
During parabolic flight, the aircraft is brought into an angle that allows for the removal of lift and free fall, similar to how satellites stay in position. Parabolic flights, otherwise known as “Vomit Comets”, have been used to train astronauts to travel in weightlessness before going into space. The pools helped complete their training before missions aboard the International Space Station.
Typically, astronauts have experienced weightlessness through dipping arcs with about 30 or 40 chances of floating as the plane descends to a lower altitude, according to www.spacelegalissues.com/a-history-of-vomit- comets/.
NASA has also historically used parabolic flights to conduct experiments in zero gravity. In 1959, their “Reduced Gravity” research program flew several aircraft over the years, including the now famous and retired KC-135A. The agency currently offers flight opportunities with Zero-G Corporation, which offers research and instructional flights in addition to commercial flights.
“Each of Zero-G’s recreational flights consists of approximately 15 parabolas, including simulations of the Moon and Mars gravity levels, as well as total weightlessness. This profile allows customers to experience weightlessness with minimal movement discomfort,” according to www.gozerog.com
Microgravity flights have also been used in the film industry. The ‘Apollo 13’ movie cast (Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton) were on KC-135A parabolic flights in the 1990s. The set was created from inside the plane to look like inside a spaceship. Seconds after the scenes were depicted, the cameras captured images of weightlessness on film. For “Apollo 13”, director Ron Howard rented the plane for months to capture all the shots in zero gravity.
Zero-Gravity Corporation is a privately held space tourism and entertainment company whose mission is to make the excitement and adventure of space accessible to the public. Anyone can fly on a Zero-G flight. If anyone has any health issues, it is recommended that they contact their doctor for advice.
For the price of $8,200 per person, guests can expect to be weightless for 30 seconds at a time, 15 times, for a total of 6-7 minutes total weightless time.
“We can carry 28 passengers at a time, and there are exclusive group prices,” Gohd said. “Take a look at our upcoming cities and see where you can float with us!”
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