Have you ever ridden a roller coaster? Have you ever flown on a commercial jet? Have you ever taken a ride in a car? Have you ever stood still? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you've experienced the effects of G forces on your body. But what exactly is a "G," and what are its effects on the human body? Here's everything you need to know about G-force, explained by our Las Vegas stunt flying experts.
What Is a G in "G-Force"?
The term "G" or "g-force" is most commonly used in the aviation field. However, many non-aviators certainly recognize it and use it themselves but might not necessarily know exactly what it is. Put simply, the "G" in "G-force" is an abbreviation for "gravity."
G-force is a measure of acceleration or deceleration, which is the change in speed over time. If you're sitting still reading this, your body is experiencing one G of force, which is the acceleration we experience due to gravity. Rapid acceleration or deceleration from your current position increases or decreases the G-forces on your body, making you feel heavier or lighter, respectively.
For example, on the typical commercial flight and only during specific maneuvers, passengers typically experience no more than 1.3 Gs of force on their bodies and no less than 0.7 Gs. Put another way, the typical passenger will feel a maximum of up to 30% heavier or 30% lighter for brief moments depending on whether the aircraft is accelerating, decelerating, climbing, descending, or turning. In general, most people will barely notice these forces.
What Happens to the Body With Extreme G-Forces?
While commercial flights exert only very minimal positive and negative G-forces on passengers, several orders of magnitude greater are the G-forces experienced by astronauts, fighter pilots and stunt pilots. These types of pilots can experience brief periods of extreme forces of nine and 10 Gs.
Without highly specialized training and equipment, this level of force would have an extreme effect on the average person within a few seconds. For example, as significant downward G-forces are applied to the human body, blood is forced from the head to the lower extremities, quickly overwhelming the heart's capacity to pump it to the brain. On the other hand, extreme negative or upward G-forces force blood from the extremities up toward the head.
Training and Equipment to Withstand Extreme G-Forces
To counteract the effects of extreme G-forces, fighter pilots and stunt pilots must first be in good physical condition and peak health. Additionally, they learn and train to execute techniques that require rapid and strong contraction of specific sets of muscles while holding and releasing their breath in a particular pattern. These techniques help keep blood from pooling in certain areas of the body.
Also, pilots who routinely push the limits of aviation with maneuvers that place extreme G-forces on their aircraft and their bodies are equipped with special full-body G-suits. The G-suit actively and automatically pressurizes specific portions of itself depending on the forces being applied to the pilot during any given maneuver. For example, during a hard loop, the suit's legs pressurize to reduce the amount of blood that would usually be sent into the lower body by the extreme downward G-forces.
Are Speed and G-Force Related?
It is a common misconception that maximum aircraft speed and maximum G-force loads the aircraft can create are related—but that's not necessarily true. For example, the SR-71 Blackbird is the fastest jet on earth, capable of reaching a speed of nearly 2,200 miles per hour. However, it can only withstand a maximum of 3 Gs, which is far less than a fighter jet or fastest aerobatic plane.
On the other hand, an expert pilot in command of an Extra 300 stunt plane can pull 10 Gs, even though the plane has a top speed of just over 200 miles per hour. This is due to the plane's extreme maneuverability and construction that can withstand G-forces significantly higher than even 10 Gs.
How Many Gs Are Experienced During Aerobatic Flying?
Although stunt planes are designed to easily withstand very high G-forces of up to 10 or even 12 Gs, stunt pilots who provide rides to the general public rarely perform maneuvers that exceed 4 Gs. This is because the average person does not have special training to handle more than 4 or 5 Gs. In general, an individual can withstand anywhere between 2 to 5 Gs and be relatively unaffected (apart from an exciting rush of adrenaline, that is!). However, it really depends on the person and what they're looking for in their flying experience.
When the body experiences too much G-force, a person might become lightheaded or even pass out for several seconds—also referred to as "G-LOC" or gravity-induced loss of consciousness. Interestingly enough, many riders seeking real heart-pounding action on our stunt planes are excited by this idea and are eager to see how far they can take it before experiencing G-LOC! In these cases, our highly trained pilots know exactly how far to take stunts based on your preferences and are ready to create a thrilling experience that takes you to the limits.
Book Your Aerobatic Flying Experience Today!
Ready to make this Vegas trip one for the books? Want to see how much G-force you can handle? Sky Combat Ace in Las Vegas will have you soaring, spinning, and diving through the air in our affordable aerobatic aircraft experiences today! Contact our team to learn more.
Also, if you're not quite ready to go so extreme right out of the gate, we offer other aircraft and less intense experiences to get your feet wet first. You can book our Spectator experience which is a great way to be introduced to the world of basic aerobatics. Think of it as a roller coaster without the rails.