Ever wonder what it would be like to really soar weightless in a spacecraft like Sam Worthington's character did in the vertigo-inducing opening scene of Avatar
? Ask his director, James Cameron
(pictured, second from left), who along with some 30 other privileged types (or who had perhaps sold off their first born) got to experience zero gravity last weekend aboard G-Force One, a specially modified, FAA-approved, Boeing 727-200 aircraft identical to those used by NASA to train astronauts. At about the same gravity levels you'd experience on Mars or the Moon, guests somersaulted and flew through the air--no wire or green screens required.
Following in the footsteps of other notable passengers like Martha Stewart, Ozzy Osbourne and Stephen Hawking, Cameron was joined by three winners of an eBay auction and others who paid $15,000 each, or about the price of a first-class ticket to anywhere plus baggage fees nowadays. It was all to raise funds for an educational non-profit organization called the X Prize Foundation--and oh yeah, promote the upcoming collector's edition of Avatar while they were at it.
The auction raised a total of $210,000 for the foundation, which promotes scientific innovation and competition. "If Avatar has created heightened interest on the importance of caring for our environment, science exploration and the potential for groundbreaking innovation, then we have succeeded," said Cameron, who's also an advisor on the X Prize Foundation's Exploration Prize Committee. The director's Avatar: Extended Collector's Edition with a three-hour cut of the movie and a Pandora's box of special features will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 16.