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Ultimate Rollercoaster

March 25, 2002

S&S Power Blames Vortex Shedding for Tower Collapse

Article written by:
Eric Gieszl, Editor

Logan, UT – S&S Power, Inc. announced the results of an independent engineering review that determined the cause for the tower collapse on the VertiGo thrill ride at Cedar Point.

In January one of three 265-foot steel towers broke off the S&S "Absolutely Insane" ride at Cedar Point and fell to the ground. The tower collapse occurred during the park's off-season, so there were no injuries and damage was minimal. In fact, according to park officials, no one witnessed the tower fall.

S&S Power manufacturer of the ride called upon several internationally recognized engineering firms and experts to investigate the cause of the collapse and recommend modifications to prevent a reoccurrence.

According to S&S the results of the investigation determined that a crack in the steel tower was caused by a vortex-shedding phenomenon that resulted from the tower standing without the support of the attached passenger cart and cables.

The ride's passenger cart and cables worked as a damper preventing the tower from swaying. With the cart and cables removed for the winter this damper was no longer present which allowed the tower to sway freely.

An ultrasound inspection of two similar rides at Knott's Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain found no cracks or evidence of vortex shedding. Both of these parks operate on a year-round basis so the passenger cart and cables were never removed.

In conjunction with the independent engineering firms S&S said that it has developed a method that will eliminate the circumstances that can create the vortex shedding phenomenon. The company will modify existing rides and incorporate the changes into future installations.

Cedar Fair owner and operator of Cedar Point and Knott's Berry Farm instead elected to remove the rides instead of repair them. Officials felt that unfavorable perceptions resulting from the incident will negatively impact the popularity of the rides at their parks. The ride at Knott's Berry Farm was dismantled and removed last week.

According to S&S passengers were never at risk during the thousands of rides delivered on the three ride installations at Cedar Point, Knott's Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain.

"It is a shame that guests at these two parks will not have the opportunity to enjoy the thrill of this ride in the upcoming season," said Stan Checketts, founder and CEO of S&S Power. "Given the level and extent of outside engineering review performed in recent months, in my opinion, it is the safest amusement ride in the industry today."

"The thousands of people who have ridden the ride since it opened last year have expressed universal excitement, and there have been absolutely no incidents of rider safety complaints", said Checketts. "We have several new sites opening this season and are pleased that park guests who love the ride will still be able to enjoy the experience."

Six Flags which operates one "Absolutely Insane" ride at Magic Mountain in Los Angeles says that they're not planning on removing the ride. Instead they will make the necessary changes and move forward with plans to install three more at different Six Flags parks this year.

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Cedar Fair Removing Vertigo Thrill Rides From Parks March 7, 2002