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March 12, 2002

Alton Towers Shows Off New Flying Roller Coaster

Article written by:
Eric Gieszl, Editor

Air Seats
Air's seat and restraint system allows riders to fly. View Photo

Staffordshire, EnglandAlton Towers today unveiled Air, a revolutionary new generation flying coaster that promises a sensation of liberation and exhilaration you've never felt before.

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.

Air Dual Loading Station
The dual loading platforms increase capacity on what will be a popular ride. View Photo

Air In Action
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.

Air Close Up
A close-up view of the riders in flying position. View Photo

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.

For more information see Air and Alton Towers

Photos courtesy of Andy Hine. All rights reserved.