Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Flat Ride Feature: Flying Coaster

 The Flying Coaster is an extremely rare flat ride that is found in only one permanent location in the entire world today. Contrary to the name, Flying Coasters are not roller coasters, as the cars are fixed to a center column, not attached to a track.
The ride's colorful centerpiece. I really like this design, which can also be found on some Scramblers.
What Does This Thing Do?
Riders board a long bench seat that leans inward into the ride's center. After securing the safety bar, the benches rotate around the center of the ride, before approaching a ramp. The bench flies up to the top of the ramp, and after a brief moment of being airborne - which often flings riders out of their seats a bit - is slowly lowered to the ground via a hydraulic arm. With each turn of the ride and subsequent jump of the ramp, people are pushed towards the outside of the seat, which can result in some very squished bodies! (If this doesn't make sense, here's a YouTube video that can hopefully convey it better: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZb5uif8jPs)
One of the cars just after it has leaped from the ramp
Amusement ride manufacturer Norman Bartlett designed this ride in the 1960s, and a good amount was sold. However, in 2019 the only operating example is at Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The most plausible reason for their downfall is likely the high cost of maintaining the hydraulic system. However, this is really a shame, as Flying Coasters are one of the most enjoyable flat rides anywhere: they allow you to enjoy a fun experience with a bunch of people, and they're unique from your typical spin-and-puke ride. It's certainly an iconic favorite at Kennywood.


K. Martinez said...

The only Flying Coaster I am aware of is The Kangaroo at Kennywood Park which is the best traditional amusement park in my opinion. For some reason I thought this flat ride was much older than it is.

I've been reading your past articles and like that you feature the older flat rides as those are the ones I grew up on as a kid and operated as an adult. I used to be a ride operator at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in California way back in the day.

Nice post. Thanks, Penna.

Crumb Crunchers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew said...

Whoops... used by dad's account by accident.

I live near Kennywood, and while it's great, there are some rides that they've removed or altered in the past 20-odd years that have somewhat altered the charm. Knoebels in Central PA is my current favorite traditional park.

What rides did you operate at Santa Cruz? Thanks for reading!

K. Martinez said...

I can understand that about Kennywood. It has changed a lot. I only visited once and that was back around 1980 when Laser Loop was the new thing. All amusement parks like everything else change.

When working at the Boardwalk I regularly operated the following:

Chance Trabant
Eli-Bridge 16-Ferris Wheel (cable, not rim-driven)
Anton Schwarzkopf Jet Star (steel coaster)
Arthur Looff Giant Dipper (wooden roller coaster)
Charles Looff Carousel
Sky Glider (cable sky ride)
Auto Scooters (very old bumper cars)
Haunted Castle (dark ride)

Sometimes but not often, I'd operate:

Cave Train (train/dark ride)
Autorama (modern auto track ride)
Super Round-Up
The Spider

That's it.

Major Pepperidge said...

I'm sure I've never been on one of these Flying Coasters, but it does look like fun. However! I was on a ride at the Santa Monica Pier, maybe it was the Scrambler, and holy toledo, I made the mistake of letting my little niece sit on the outside - which meant that I spent the entire ride holding on with all of my might so that I didn't crush her. I wish the ride operators had warned me!

Andrew said...

Wow, that's got to be close to the whole park! I'm guessing that gave you a lot of knowledge of different mechanisms and controls, especially if this was before the era of computerization on ride cycles. Now the operator just hits a button and sits back and relaxes! I'd love to operate rides someday.

Andrew said...

Scramblers can be brutal! Any rides that travel in a repeating circular pattern for a long time at a fast speed are sure to make you say, "holy toledo!" ...if you're riding with a partner.

Here at Kennywood, one of the roller coasters has a huge drop followed by a completely flat turn, so to avoid parents crushing their child's rib cage, there's signs at the entrance saying that the smaller person must enter the train first. Makes sense!

Melissa said...

I love the Kennywood Kangaroo! It's amazing how much thrill you can get from something so relatively simple.

Andrew said...

Melissa, that's when you know you have a good flat ride design!