As part of the PoSSUM course, we participated in g-force flights to experience the impact of g-forces on our bodies.
The purpose of this exercise was to simulate the G-force effects of a sub-orbital spaceflight pattern (4-5Gs), similar to that of a Virgin Galactic flight. This also provided a chance to gain experiential knowledge on how difficult it would be to conduct a mission under those conditions.
The flight took place at the Daytona Beach International Airport where met up with Patty Wagstaff‘s aerobatic pilots. The pilots took us up in a Decathlon to experience different types G-forces. The flight pattern was designed to provide crew members the opportunity to feel 2-4Gz, 0G, -Gz, and -2Gz.
To explain the g-forces a little more, here is what each one represents:
- Gz = Acceleration from head to tow (i.e. eyeballs down)
- -Gz = Acceleration from toe to head (i.e. eyeballs up)
- 0G = No acceleration from any direction (i.e. microgravity)
On the 2Gs loop, I felt great I was so excited to be up there and in the air. The 3Gs loop I also felt great and had the opportunity to take control of the stick and fly the plane. That was pretty exhilarating because I had never flown a plane before. When we went into the 4Gz loop, I could feel my vision starting to tunnel and I started doing the anti-G straining maneuver. It was useful to see, first-hand, how effective the maneuver was in-flight. For reference, the anti-G straining maneuver is the flexing of glute and leg muscles combined with quick, timed, breaths. This is conducted in order to keep the blood flowing into your extremities and from flowing into your head. Without this maneuver, you risk the possibility of g-force induced loss of consciousness (G-LOC). My absolutely favorite part of this experience was the -Gz and -2Gz loops. When the plane flipped upside down and we were looking up and the ground, I felt like a bird. This got me thinking that I could do something like aerobatic flying and sparked a new fire inside.
This was an incredible experience and certainly one of the most fun activities of the week spent at the PoSSUM course.