March 12, 2002
The new "flying machine" as some are calling it is the first flying roller coaster from renowned coaster designers by Bolliger and Mabillard of Switzerland.
What makes Air different from traditional roller coasters is the train. The three unique trains feature 28 seats four abreast, that tilt, placing passengers in a flying position while riding.
One of the roller coaster vehicles completes a half-flip. View Photo
"I was fortunate to get a front seat on the first ride!" exclaimed Andy Hine, chairman and founder of the Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain, who was present for the press preview.
The loading station has two platforms so Air will have three trains operating when the ride runs at maximum capacity. The loading system is fairly easy and the restraints are comfortable, noted Hines.
Once all passengers are boarded the seats tilt forward into the "flying" position. The train leaves the station and heads up the lift hill offering riders excellent views of Alton Towers Nemesis roller coaster.
"The first drop is best taken with arms stretched out Superman style," said Hines. "This adds to the feeling of flying."
After the first drop the vehicles flip over so riders are lying on their back as they encounter a high-speed helix, followed by another flip before entering a tunnel. On several occasions the vehicles fly close to the ground enhancing the ride experience.
According to Alton Towers Air stands 66 feet tall at its highest point and features a top speed of 47 mph as the vehicle speeds along 2,756 feet of steel track.
"I won't tell you too much as I don't want to spoil it," said Hine. "Air is very smooth, fun and exhilarating!"
Air opens to the public on March 16.
Photos courtesy of Andy Hine. All rights reserved.