FLYING COASTERS

a.k.a Flying Coaster, Prone Coaster, Lay-Down Coaster, Flying Dutchman

Manta SeaWorld Orlando
Manta at SeaWorld Orlando in Florida, USA.

 

Vekoma, a company usually known for their cheap selection of rides and/or cheaper knockoffs of the current trends (such as the SLC with the inverted coaster trend), took the helm of innovation with their Flying Dutchman coaster, the first coaster to give riders a true sense of flight by lying them down on their backs and flipping them into the prone position at certain points in the ride. Since then, two companies have produced flying coasters – B&M, who’s “true” flyer is considered the best version available today, and Zamperla, who’s cheap and somewhat painful version is to Flying coasters what the SLC is to inverted coasters.

The Original

VEKOMA FLYING DUTCHMAN

Nighthawk Carowinds
Nighthawk at Carowinds in the Carolinas, USA.

The first flying coaster was made by Vekoma, and while technically a flying coaster, it’s considered more of a lay-down coaster with flying segments. Riders are loaded into the cars facing backwards, and before dispatch, the trains are tilted backwards (see picture) into the lay-down position. At the top of the lift hill, the trains performed a lie-fly element built into a 180-degree turn, flipping them into the flying position. Three such rides exist today, the latter two (X-Flight at Geauga Lake, and Batwing at Six Flags America) replacing the final two corkscrews with inline-twists.

Operating examples:

Batwing at Six Flags America, USA
Firehawk at Kings Island, USA
Nighthawk at Carowinds, USA

 

Variations

B&M FLYING COASTER

Superman Ultimate Flight Six Flags Great America
Superman Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Great America in Illinois, USA.

Considered the first “true” flying coaster (due to the loading process in which the trains leave the station in the flying position, unlike the lay-down position of the Vekoma Flying Dutchman series), the first Bollinger & Milliard Flying Coaster was the result of a collaboration between John Wardley and B&M, who had worked together designing the flying coaster since Nemesis was completed in 1993. When Air was finally under construction at Alton Towers, B&M sold a different version (soon to become the standard version with further other copies being built in the years to follow) to Six Flags, which quickly went up at Six Flags Over Georgia – the American park nearly took the title of first Flying Coaster from Alton Towers, the park who had helped develop it!

Operating examples:

Tatsu at Six Flags Magic Mountain, USA
Superman Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Over Georgia, USA
Superman Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Great America, USA
Air at Alton Towers, UK

ZAMPERLA VOLARE

Tomb Raider Canada’s Wonderland
Tomb Raider: the Ride (a.k.a Time Warp) at Canada’s Wonderland.

A much less technically impressive flying coaster was made by Zamperla, as a compact fairground coaster. Their few installations have combined flying coasters with wild-mouse style layouts, offering constant turns and small dips with single-car trains. The Zamperla version offers the potential for a small park, without money for a Vekoma or B&M flyer, to purchase a coaster of this style.

Operating examples:

Trombi at Särkänniemi Amusement Park, Finland
Soarin’ Eagle at Scream Zone, USA
Time Warp at Canada’s Wonderland
Super Flight at Rye’s Playland Park, USA