Weightless in Las Vegas: Tourists spend big bucks for a wild exp - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Weightless in Las Vegas: Tourists spend big bucks for a wild experience

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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

Each day, hundreds of planes fly in and out of McCarran International Airport. But there is one aircraft that is not like the rest - a blue and white Boeing 727 sits on the tarmac, waiting for a wild trip.

It is a zero gravity flight, and this one coincides with a major moment in space history. 50 years ago this week, John Glenn became the first American in orbit.

Across the street, inside a meeting room at the Four Seasons Hotel, 35 people are suiting and gearing up to feel complete weightlessness for the very first time.

"I want to throw (my wife) like a ball," suggested Barry McQuain. He and his wife, Karla, came to Las Vegas from San Francisco just for this experience.

"We told all of our friends we were going on a diet," Barry said.

Unfortunately, the weightless feeling is only temporary. Zero G Corporation first came to Sin City in 2007. At the time, it was the first company to offer a zero gravity experience to the public.

"I didn't even know it existed, really," said John Schreiner, who flew in from Spokane, Washington with his two sons. "I thought it was just for astronauts."

Many take part in the flights to celebrate birthdays, even weddings. Schreiner is turning 60, while another passenger, Fletcher Kopacz, is turning 14.

It is a mix of people from around the country and the world.

"I really came just to fulfill this dream - feel weightless - and it's something I always wanted to do," said Humberto Quintas, who lives in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.

Boarding the retrofitted ‘G-Force One' is like entering a world where the laws of physics cease to exist – at least for around 8 minutes. The plane departs McCarran, and climbs up to 24,000 feet. From there, it moves up to 32,000 feet.

It's called a parabolic flight, and the same technique has been used to train astronauts for decades. It is also the same method used to shoot scenes for movies like Apollo 13.

The flight pattern looks like a roller coaster, with the dips being where the plane experiences zero gravity. The first experience is something out of this world.

"You lay on the ground and you just float up," Kopacz said.

Everything floated, including candy and water.

"It splashed into tinier particles," Quintas said. "So, it's something that you only see in science fiction movies, and never imagined how great it would be, and now it's a dream coming true."

The flight makes 15 total parabolas, which include two that exhibit lunar gravity (one-sixth of earth), and Martian gravity (one-third of earth).

Each parabola lasts about 30 seconds, and then it's back to reality as a flight attendant yells out on a megaphone: "Feet down, coming out!"

The cost for the experience is currently $4,950 per person, which does make it a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for many who make the trip.

However, Las Vegas resident Kristal Allen actually gets paid for the ride.

"I like to say I have the coolest job in Las Vegas, if not possibly the world," Allen said.

She is a flight coach for Zero G whenever the plane is in Las Vegas, which is typically once every quarter. Her full-time job is performing as a dancer at Rio Hotel & Casino.

"I love telling people about it, because it's one of the most unique jobs that I've had," she said.

It is so unusual, that quite often people stop by the strip, but only as a secondary point of interest. They make the flight their main attraction and their reason for coming to Las Vegas.

"(We came) all the way to Vegas just to go to Zero G," said David Kopacz, who flew his family in from Kentucky for two short days.

The next Las Vegas flight is scheduled for May 5. Zero G only has one plane that travels around the country, including stops in Los Angeles, Florida, and San Jose.

The only thing missing in the air… is a slot machine.

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