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Mar 15, 2016 11:28 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Man Takes His Nostalgic Ride For A Spin

Amanda Bernocco of the Southampton Press takes a spin on Natt Chomsky's gyroscope, which he takes around to festivals and private parties. GREG WEHNER
Mar 17, 2016 11:09 AM

Take a ride back to the 1980s … Ronald Reagan was the president of the United States, “The A-Team” was a thing, and pinball machines lined the walls of arcades across America. Kids actually wanted to leave the house to have fun, to play with their radio-controlled cars and planes, and grab a Slurpee from a 7-Eleven on the corner of their choice.Those were the days—just ask 63-year-old Natt Chomsky of Westhampton. Mr. Chomsky not only lived back then, he’s holding on to what’s left of the iconic time.

Down in the basement of his home is every man’s childhood dream. The walls are lined with video games, such as Alpine Racer and an old commercial flight simulator game, as well as pinball machines, both old and new. He also has a grandiose collection of radio-controlled airplanes that would make any hobby junkie jealous.

But his collection of nostalgia was incomplete.

In 2009, the retired broadcast editor bought a human gyroscope ride on eBay. Though he would not say how much he dropped on the initial purchase, he has put nearly $10,000 into the device to get it to the condition it is in today.

The gyroscope has three rings that are connected and move in different directions. One ring moves diagonally, one moves horizontally and the third moves vertically. The idea is for a person to strap their feet into bindings, and then lean in different directions to move the rings and their body around.

Those in Westhampton Beach this past Saturday might have noticed a Coneheaded mannequin—named Gyrotron Jim—strapped inside Mr. Chomsky’s device in the village’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Mr. Chomsky said he had first come across a gyroscope at a convention in Las Vegas a few years before his purchase, and that he was immediately intrigued by it.

“I wanted to try it,” he said. “I was only on it for a minute, and thought it was fun. The next morning, I was charley-horsing.”

The sudden burst of leg cramps made Mr. Chomsky realize the device affected muscles he did not know he had. It had given him a full body workout.

A few years later, after he found a gyroscope being sold on eBay by a personal trainer in Colorado, he had it delivered to his place in New York. He replaced parts of the trailer, built a better support system and replaced bearings.

According to Mr. Chomsky, the technology used in the gyroscope was developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, in the 1960s. The device was made to simulate the spin and g-forces that astronauts might experience when falling back down to earth from outer space.

Since purchasing the ride, Mr. Chomsky has made it available through his company, Just for Amusements, for people to experience at private parties and festivals, and he is working with a gym and a museum, which he preferred to leave unnamed because of ongoing negotiations. “She,” as Mr. Chomsky likes to refer to the gyroscope, has even been in a music video, titled “Alien Days,” by the band MGMT, and also in a commercial for IBM.

Mr. Chomsky said his company has a perfect safety record, which he credits to a few rules—the ride is not meant for people who have heart problems, and people on drugs or alcohol are prohibited from riding the gyroscope. Once—with some hesitation—he allowed a 91-year-old to take a ride while the man’s family looked on. At the end, the man’s enormous smile inspired his grandchildren to give it a whirl as well.

Mr. Chomsky said such smiles are his favorite thing about the gyroscope. “It’s a non-violent ride,” he said. “It can be graceful and subdued, calm and gentle, or acrobatic and vigorous.”

Mark Bernardo, a 61-year-old computer animator from Westhampton who has known Mr. Chomsky since 1980 and helped him out at Saturday’s parade, was in agreement. “The center of gravity is at the stomach,” Mr. Bernardo said. “Because of that, the rider never feels nauseous.”

“People should try it out,” Mr. Chomsky said. “It’s an exciting, fun, amazing spinning sensation. It may be intimidating, but it’s fun.”

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