December 2, 2012 3:52 pm

Zero-gravity coach

  • Share
  • Print
  • Clip
  • Gift Article
  • Comments
Veronique Balsa Koken

Veronique Balsa Koken, Aurora Aerospace weightless coach in her G-suit

We fly a specially designed aircraft in a steep up-and-down trajectory over the Gulf of Mexico. This allows civilians to experience weightlessness. I co-pilot the aeroplane until we get to altitude at 6,000ft, then I move to the back, where the participants are. We begin with partial gravity – usually one-sixth G, about what you would experience on the moon. After low gravity we introduce them to full weightlessness.

Because of the movement of the aircraft, people tend to float upwards but also backwards, so we start them at the back of the cabin. We usually do a few manoeuvres. I might ask them to face downwards and push with their feet against the back of the cabin so they float forwards like Superman. We also play games. I introduce objects such as ping-pong balls so that they can catch them.

The best experience is water. As the participants float around they can grab water bubbles and swallow them.

You normally get 10 to 12 seconds of weightlessness and I indicate when this will end so that the participants can brace themselves.

I also check the participants are OK. About 50 per cent of people get sick. If someone’s ill, I usually ask the pilot to level off but if it’s very serious you have to go home.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2015. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.

  • Share
  • Print
  • Clip
  • Gift Article
  • Comments
SHARE THIS QUOTE