I knew in advance at least some of what this would involve. The producer called me a couple of days before and asked me if I'd be interested, and I said "hell yes". I wasn't disappointed, either.
I rode in the production van out to Burbank Airport, where things would start. I was introduced to my date, Carol, by no less a personage than Buzz Aldrin. Of course, I was in serious fanboy mode for that, and of course it showed on the air.
The first part of the date was a flight on Zero Gravity Corporation's G-Force One. It's a slightly modified 727 cargo aircraft that flies the same kind of microgravity parabolic flights as NASA's famed Vomit Comet. The program for the day was to fly two parabolas simulating Martian gravity, six simulating lunar gravity, and seven at microgravity (zero G, to the non-geek). After the introduction, Carol and I went inside. She got fitted for a flight suit, and the producer got them to agree to let me fly it in my costume. We were briefed on what would happen, and formed into teams that we'd stay together in during the parabolas.
The plan was to depart about 3 PM. Unfortunately, two problems, including a hydraulic leak, delayed our departure for four hours. We finally launched about 7 PM, as night was falling. It took about 20 minutes for us to climb out and get out to the area over the Pacific where the parabolas would be flown.
The first few were fun. Martian gravity wasn't bad at all, Lunar gravity was enjoyable...but the combination of the sudden changes in gravity (the recovery from one parabola and entry to the next is done at 1.8 G), and the maneuvering I was doing, caught up with me. I got sick about the third Lunar parabola. By the fifth, I was really out of it, and was led back to a seat and strapped in for the remainder of the flight. I got to experience microgravity mainly sitting down. Carol didn't have any problems, of course, and neither did the director who went along - though he told me later that one more parabola and he'd have lost it too.
I must point out here that the folks at Zero-G did everything they could to make it a fun experience for everyone. There were only three of us (out of about 30) who got sick, and they took good care of us. The flight plan is designed to minimize the effects of motion sickness; only those who are sensitive to it are usually affected. The rule of thumb is that it's like an intense roller coaster. If you can handle that, you'll be fine on their flight. As it happens, I'm sensitive to motion sickness. I knew I was going to get sick, and told the producer in advance of that - and also said "but don't let that stop you!" I'm glad they didn't. If they asked me to go flying with them tomorrow, I'd jump at the chance, even knowing how my body would react.
By the time we landed, it was 9 PM. We got nice framed certificates stating we were now Weightless Certified (dunno if that means anything, but you can bet mine will hang on the wall in a nice prominent spot anyway). We rode back into town, and to a karaoke bar named Dimples. There, I finally ate (I didn't eat before flying, knowing it wouldn't stay with me), and Carol and I relaxed and talked a bit. Then, the final bit: We got to sing a song I'd never heard before in my life, Air Supply's All Out of Love. The director's comment afterwards was that my "what the hell do I do now?" look was perfect. He pegged it: I had no idea what to do. Had Carol not carried the song largely herself, we'd have looked even more ridiculous. I'm relieved that didn't air.
After that, we went back to her hotel and dropped her off, and I went back to mine and collapsed. It was after midnight, and I was wiped out.
I'm sorry to say that Carol and I never really connected. This wasn't her fault, really; things just didn't go as planned, and by the time we got to talk, it just wasn't working. I'm truly sorry it came out the way it did. My big hope out of all of these is that the ladies involved have a good time, and I think it's my responsibility to see that they do. I blew it with this one.
The next date will air next week, I think. I'm taping another one later this week, and flying home Saturday. (rillaspins, I guess I'll have to catch up with you sometime next week, if possible.)