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Austrian Parabel Mission 17 and 18

The missions APM 17 and 18 took off on July 23rd 2004 from the airfield in Leer/Ostfriesland, where in that week the "Pink", our Zero-G airplane, was stationed due to a parachute boogie. So these are the first parabolic flights that took off from Germany! Because my exams were already over I could participate again as an instructor (on the missions 14-16 I couldn't fly because of an exam that was set for that day). By the way, close to Leer is Papenburg, the town where the biggest cruise ships in the world are built.

Just a small anecdote to the mission numbers: For not scaring off suspicious passengers, mission number 13 was skipped and the first test mission - where Paul was on his own to test the quality and duration of the achieved weightlessness - was named in APM 13...

Safety measurements

The travel to Leer was for me on the day before by train. On the same evening the plane was readied for the zero-g missions, that means: All edges were taped, all sharp corners were padded with foam and in the back a net was installed to minimize the risk of injury for the passengers as much as possible.

On the other day we welcomed the passengers in the early morning. Two missions were planned, the second of them with a team from the TV station MDR, which for the show "Mach Dich ran" brought a candidate with them who was supposed to fly on that mission. The briefing was at 7 a.m. with all passengers and the cameraman, because the flights should take off soon one after another to make the pink available for the parachutists as early as possible since they had planned a lot for this day.
The weather was first very promising (5 a.m.), but during the briefing it started to rain. To our surprise flight control gave us the "go" for the first flight. Due to the poor visibility the parabolas partly were not so good as we were used to.

The "Pink" takes off for parabolic flight

The first group is excitedly awaiting their trip to zero-g

Some members of the 2nd group together with the showmaster from "Mach Dich ran" (left in the light blue shirt) take a close look at the airplane

For the second flight we then had to wait for a while because the rain increased once again, contrary to the good weather the forecast had promised us. The mood was down at first because everyone thought the next flight could not take place. But the pilots then came with the info that the weather was supposed to clear up shortly, what was then the case. So the second mission of this day could be flown successfully and to everyone's content. Besides the candidate and the cameraman of the MDR an employee of the internet marketing company flew with us with a camera. You can view his video and some pictures here.

Mission 17

Mission 18

Fog in the cabin when passing the clouds

Weightless throwing games

Carsten as "Floating virgin"

Also a possibility of movement

Thomas Hietschold, the candidate of the MDR

Sitting on the ceiling is fun

Here are some quotes of our passengers:

Detlev Koehler (
"Our flight was really awesome, actually I can't describe, how great weightlessness is!"
"Hello Ruth, Hello Tanja, Hello Paul,
I want to thank you again for the good organization and the great flight! Weightlessness is really something off the ground... I am inspired!
In the meantime I will be making some more advertisement for our "Joint-Venture" and hope that we see each other again some time on an airfield in Germany!
Best regards!

Karsten Frank Skov Nielsen aus Dänemark:
"Helloo, Paul, girls, pilots etc.
That was really great, the flight with you in Leer on July 23rd 2004. Crazy, incredible, you hardly find words for it. One of the best flight experiences I ever had. One feels really well and in good hands with you from the first moment on. You made it possible also for private people, not only for scientists, to experience something like that. Go on like this!
The interactions between 2G und Zero G, to be pressed to the floor at first and in the next moment leaving the floor, were fantastically beautiful.
A good side effect for me was when I got a very great feeling in my stomach in the first parabola, like in the best rollercoaster. I hoped this feeling would repeat in all 20 times, but (sadly) it went away more and more each time and disappeared. When do we fly again?
I had another experience when the friendly René from Bonn took me in his 2-seater Cessna to Bonn. It gave me a great possibility to see a piece of Germany from above. The return with the train then got a little longer for me, but it was worth it.
In the end I want to quote some lines from a song with Andy Borg (Because we love each other - translation):

To be with you is like flying,
Gravity is defeated, one floats along.

Best regards to all of you,
Karsten in Esbjerg, Danmark."

Thomas Hietschold from Germany:
"How the MDR brought me to the edge of space" (german)

After saying good-bye to the passengers and making the plane ready for the parachutists, the Austrian Parabelteam still had enough time for visiting the city of Leer and for a sightseeing tour in the harbour, before in the late afternoon I left Leer going back to the black forest by train.

Presentation of the certificates after the flight

A report about the flight with the MDR team and their candidate was shown in the MDR on Monday, September 13, 2004 at 7:50 p.m. in the show "Mach Dich ran".