The band OK Go released their latest creative music video and this one was taken on a parabolic airplane tens of thousands of feet in the sky. The video, which features OK Go floating in weightlessness, was for their song “Upside Down & Inside Out.”
“Gravity’s just a habit that you’re really sure you can’t break.” – OK Go
To create the video, the S7 Airlines plane flew up and down in a wave-like path. This parabolic motion created the sensation of zero gravity for the band members who were free-falling inside the plane.
Parabolic flights have been around for decades. They’ve been used to train astronauts, conduct science experience, shoot movies like Apollo 13, and even conduct photo shoots like Kate Upton’s famous Sports Illustrated Swimsuit ZeroG shoot.
During parabolic flights passengers experience periods of hypergravity (typically around 1.8 times gravity) and microgravity (close to 1 millionth the force of gravity you feel while standing on the surface of Earth).
Typically, these flights will generate about 20-25 seconds of hypergravity and 25-30 seconds of weightlessness. If you watch closely, you can point out periods during the OK Go video where the band members are experiencing hypergravity, meaning the plane was beginning to accelerate up the curve of the wave.
Parabolic airplanes date back to the Mercury program when NASA used this flight strategy to prepare astronauts for the feeling for weightlessness. Oftentimes, passengers would feel disoriented from repeatedly experiencing periods of feeling extremely heavy and then feeling weightless. Because of this, the first NASA parabolic plane was dubbed the “Vomit Comet.”
For many years, university students were able to apply to fly on this type of aircraft through NASA’s Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program. NASA received funding to provide parabolic flights and enable students to conduct microgravity experiments. Unfortunately, in 2014, that program ended.
However, if you have $5,000 you can buy your way to a weightless experience. The Zero Gravity Corporation, which uses a Boeing 727-200 aircraft, offers parabolic flights in Florida, Nevada, and California.