Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fayette County Teachers Participate in Weightless Flight


Tammy Pakulski during weightless flight onboard G-Force One.

Two of Fayette County's teachers became zeronauts for a day and both thought their experience was, pardon the pun, out of this world.

Carol Taylor, a math teacher at Rising Starr Middle, and Tammy Pakulski, a science teacher at JC Booth Middle, took part in the Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery Program on October 7. The teachers were participants in a zero gravity flight that is comparable to what astronauts experience in space.

“The experience was out of this world; it was fabulous,” says Taylor upon her arrival back to earth. “It was a fun and rewarding experience with applications connecting to classroom concepts. My accelerated students studied the vertical motion model while I was gone and I was able to discuss how the flight was a perfect example of what they learned.”

Here’s how the weightless flight works. The airplane, a 727 called G-Force One, climbs at a 50-degree angle, topping off at 31,500 feet and then goes into freefall creating a weightless environment inside the plane for 25-30 seconds. The maneuver is completed a total of 15 times giving participants about 6-7 minutes of weightless flight.

“The flight was much smoother than I had expected. Going weightless was actually a very peaceful experience,” says Pakulski. “The 1.8 Gs we experienced on the climb was not as bad as I thought it would be. You pull more Gs on the Mindbender at Six Flags.”

Both teachers have reached celebrity status at their schools, appearing on the closed circuit TV announcements and getting bombarded by students.

“When I returned to school I was mobbed by students, many I didn’t even know. They all wanted to know about the experience, “ says Pakulski.

Taylor was a special guest during her school’s morning announcements.

“I was dressed in my flight suit with my certificate in hand along with our school agenda and panther mascot that went along for the ride with me. The students have been extremely responsive school wide,” she says.

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