Defying Gravity



Monday, October 8th Two Local Teachers Join others' in DEFYING GRAVITY on Northrup Grummans's Weightless Flights of Discovery Program aboard the Zero G Planes outside of  Long Beach.  

Bonnie Maye and Meredith Beachly defied gravity on the afternoon flight of the Zero G plane out over Long Beach, where they flew through fifteen parabolas including twelve weightless segments.  

"It was something that is truly hard to describe, " said Ms. Maye, after returning to school from the 2 hour flight over the Pacific Ocean with over 30 fellow educators. "Once you got used to how to move and control yourself, the flights were over."

"Awesome!, " was the reaction from Ms. Beachly after touchdown. 

The day began with a 12 noon check in at the Long Beach Marriott. After signing waivers, teachers suited up and talked about experiments, double-checked all the logistics to be sure all items were accounted for, turned in cameras, and finally took the anti-motion sickness medication before being wanded and security-cleared for the bus ride the the Zero-G plane.

Once on the tarmac, pictures of each group - Gold, Silver, and Blue- were taken along with a group photo including KTLA News' own Bill Smith, who flew in the Gold Groups' section. 

Just like a normal airplane ride, all participants' were seated and listened to the normal instructions for take off. However, we knew this was going to be different when we were asked to give our shoes to our coaches, explained Ms. Maye. 

"It was a little disorienting since there were no windows in the plane, " explained Ms. Beachly. 

Once we reached cruising altitude of about 23,000 ft. it was time to take our places for the first set of parabolas that simulated Martian Gravity (1/3 normal weight) and then two Lunar Gravity parabolas (1/6th normal weight) before going fully into microgravity often referred to as weightlessess. 

The normal push ups and slight leaps occurred and excitement built until we were fully  into the "weightless" parabolas explained Ms. Maye. Then all bets were off - as teachers, toys, experiements, cameras, M & M's, and water bottles started coming out of the coaches bags. 

"Our group participated in a world record - the first straight jacket escape in zero-g", said Ms. Beachly. "It was pretty amazing to see everyone float and to see how quickly Mr. G got out of the jacket."

Additional parabolas were used for a teacher toss, spins, and the famous "superman" pose with everyone pusing off the back wall.

"Our flight had a bit of everything --- mechanical flying pigs, gyros, tossing teachers, density experiments, lots of flying candy and water, yoga moves, even a light saber war (after we were at straight and level", relayed Ms. Maye. 

"The 1.8 g was not that bad as long as you looked up and did not move your head much. The video from the flight turned out a little spotty, sometimes you got turned around and stuck in the middle and couldn't hold onto anything, so got lots of pictures of our socks, " laughed Ms. Maye. 

"Northrup Grumman really went out of their way to make us feel welcome, to give us such an incredible experience to share with our students," said Ms. Beachly. "Their generosity and support of educators and education truly is inspiring and made this day one I will remember always."

After landing back on the tarmac in Long Beach, each flier was greeted and official had their name badges turned right-side up - a symbolic right of passage- and a photograph - by about 10 photographers. A re-gravtitation party took place where each participant was presented with a framed picture of the event. DVD's with all the photos and video feeds will be sent to everyone in about one month. 

"We really had a great time defying gravity - one that is truly hard to explain fully without actually going through it. The last 'feet down' was very sad for us as we realized our flights were over, " Ms. Beachly and Ms. Maye explained.

Check back here for video links from the flight!