And then it's finally happening: my very first parabola. I am standing behind our setup and waiting for the countdown. 20, 10, 5, 3, 2, 1, pull-up! The pilots pull the aircraft to a maximum of 50 degrees with nose-up attitude. It sounds obvious, but everything started to feel heavier. It's only 1.8 times the earth gravity and in some rollercoasters, you experience 4 or even 5 g. But this is only for a fraction of a second. In a parabolic flight, there are solid 26 seconds of 1.8 g hypergravity and OMG this is heavy! My colleague Dirk turns around and smiles: "Have fun, nothing is like the first parabola!". True that. The pilots announce INJECTION and then we are weightless. I start to lift off from the ground, I am 'falling' forward, and my brain expects me to land safely on the ground, just like I landed the last 30 years ago. But not this time. I just keep on floating. My brain cannot handle it, my vision shortly turns upside down, there is literally no top and bottom anymore, I see some white flashes (probably while my brain tries to re-wire and process this new experience), and then everything is kind of normal. It's incredible how fast the human brain can adapt to such extraordinary environments.
I am floating around in zero gravity, helping with the experiments, and then there is the countdown for the pull-out. After 22 seconds of zero gravity, there is again a hypergravity period of 20 seconds, before the aircraft returns to steady flight. 1 parabola down, 30 to go.
Below are some videos of the inside and outside of the A310 during a parabola, of me having fun in the free-floating area, and also of me failing miserably trying to do push-ups in hypergravity.