Vomit Comet Blog: Friday, May 12, 2006

posted by Vinaya

Success! Mission Accomplished! That's all folks!

Today was our final flight day on the C-9. Most of the teams head home tomorrow. Some leave today and a couple left already.

I felt sort of melancholy today during our morning briefing. It was short again, most of us having been through all the previous morning briefings. It was the last time all the teams would be in one place together. We've already begun to scatter back to our respective homes in Washington State, Wisconsin, Kansas, Georgia, Illinois and Ohio (and Maryland, of course).

After the morning briefing, meds briefing and pre-flight. Wheels up (take-off) at exactly 9:30. And then we waited...

While we waited, an Air Force C-5 came in for a landing. They're hauling some cargo to Hawaii. That plane is huge. You can see the size difference in the picture. It's amazing. I'm gonna try and stowaway on that one, too. But Hawaii's a 10-hour flight away. So maybe not.

There was a little bit of panic on the tarmac. While waiting for the C-9 to land, we saw several ambulances and fire engines rushing toward the runway. We thought the C-9 might be in trouble. Turns out that it's SOP--Standard Operating Procedure--for the emergency vehicles if a plane coming in for a landing might need the emergency personnel. One of the NASA T-38s (Astronaut training plane) that was landing before the C-9 was getting a warning indicator light and SOP dictates that they call the emergency personnel. All was fine, we were just a little concerned.

My hopes for a No Kill flight have been dashed. Four kills on our flight today. Most of them at the end. But that's okay, as long as everyone was safe and they got the data they needed. It would have been really nice to have one of our photos in the No Kill Gallery. Yes, they have one. Team pictures from all the No Kill flights. Oh well...maybe next time?

The teams are unloading their experiments now. The mechanics want the plane back sooner than usual. They want to run some tests. While the teams unload, I thought I'd write my final posting from Houston.

This week has been an amazing experience. The teachers were wonderful to work with, the NASA staff so accomodating. But the highlight of the weekend was definitely the flight. We trained for three days and then the flight was over. Experiencing weightlessness has got to be the coolest thing ever. All the teams agreed.

Well, folks, that's it for my week in Houston at Ellington Field, flying onboard the C-9. It's something I'll never forget. I'm glad I have pictures to prove it. When the teachers get back home, we'll set up some sort of information mechanism, so that teachers can continue to keep in contact. They've all got some good data to analyze and hopefully some of them will be making presentations at upcoming scientific meetings.

I've had a blast here in Houston, and I hope that you've had fun reading about our experiences. Drop me a line if you want to comment on the blog. Otherwise, enjoy the pictures and the posts. I've had fun writing it and sharing these experiences with you. Who knows, maybe in the future, I'll write another one...about my SECOND vomit comet flight. (HINT HINT to whomever might be reading this that can make it happen...anyone!?!).

Thanks for reading folks, I'm heading home.

Time until NEXT vomit comet flight: Not soon enough!

C-9 and the C-5: Pretty big difference, isn't it?

C-9 and the C-5: Pretty big difference, isn't it?

The Tails of two planes.

The Tails of two planes.

Final landing of the WYP flights.

Final landing of the WYP flights.

Unloading the final projects. Notice the cargo door, swings up from the fuselage. In hindsight, I spent a good deal of time leaning against this door during my flight.

Unloading the final projects. Notice the cargo door, swings up from the fuselage. In hindsight, I spent a good deal of time leaning against this door during my flight.

My final view of the C-9.

My final view of the C-9.