June 22, 1999
Santa Clara, Calif. -- You're not just flying, you're strapped to the outside of a rocketing train hurtling through 2,766 feet of curves, twists and turns at up to 50 miles an hour. And all you see are blurs of ground and sky rushing towards you.
It's a roller coaster all right, but you've never experienced anything like this before. Not anywhere. Not ever.
After months of secrecy (and speculation by coaster enthusiasts worldwide), Paramount's Great America on Tuesday unveiled the code-named "Project Stealth," the world's first true flying coaster. The unique new coaster is now under final construction and testing and is expected to open in March 2000. The coaster is a prototype being built by Vekoma International of the Netherlands.
When completed, guests will board coaster trains, sit down and secure two harnesses. One harness will hold their knees in place, the other will hold their upper body. The train then departs the station and goes up the 115-foot, 30-degree lift hill backwards, as guests are slowly tilted to a prone position in their seats. With guests lying down, the train then goes through the first inversion at the top of the hill so guests are quickly flying facedown, zooming toward the ground.
Guests will spend virtually all of the ride on their backs and fronts, with the coaster track behind them, unable to see what's coming up. "Project Stealth" is designed to continually surprise guests with unexpected twists and turns, three of which bring them within 10 feet of the ground. Guests will also get unobstructed vistas of the park during the ride.
"The best and brightest designers and engineers have spent hundreds of thousands of hours creating this incredible experimental coaster," said Roger Houben, chief executive officer of Vekoma. "We faced numerous challenges, especially how to load guests and get them into position to 'fly.' We're confident that the weeks and months of testing ahead will demonstrate that we've built the most unique coaster experience on Earth."
"Project Stealth will be proof that man was meant to fly...fast" said Gayle Y. Ando, general manager and executive vice president of Paramount's Great America. "Sure, people have flown in ordinary airplanes for years. But Project Stealth will let guests fly at incredible speeds through amazing twists, turns and rolls. No one in the world has ever experienced anything like it."
For Paramount's Great America, which is surrounded by the biggest names in international high-tech, "Project Stealth" is a natural.
"As the top family and teen attraction in Silicon Valley - and in Northern California - we want to offer guests the absolute cutting edge in extreme thrill rides. In this case, we're way ahead of the curve."
The coaster course includes a 66-foot vertical loop, a double-inversion corkscrew, and a horseshoe which inverts the track to approximately 110 degrees. Riders will be subjected to maximum G-forces of positive 4.3 and negative 2.5.
"Project Stealth" will utilize two coaster trains, each carrying 24 riders in six rows of four across.
Paramount's Great America and Vekoma said some major "secrets" about "Project Stealth" remain, including the coaster's new name and identity.
Lift Height - 115 feet
Anti-Rollback Mechanism - Electromagnetic - Silent
Lift Angle - 30 degrees
Track Length - 2,766 feet
Maximum Speed - 51 mph
Maximum G Force -4.3 Gs (positive), 2.5 Gs (negative)
Total Ride Duration (Dispatch to Dispatch) - 1 minute, 50 seconds
Ride Duration (top of lift to brakes) - 52 seconds
Number of Riders per hour - 1,000
Dispatch Time - 85 seconds
Total Inversions - 8
Vertical Loops - 1
Height of Vertical Loop - 66 feet
Corkscrew - 2 inversions
Horseshoe - Inverts track to approximately 110 degrees
180 degree inversions - 4
Train/ Coaches/ Seats
Train Length - 54 Feet Long
Train Capacity - 24 riders
Seating configuration - Four riders abreast in 6 rows
Number of Trains - 2
Height/ Weight limitation - Seats can accommodate riders 48 inches to 80 inches tall, maximum weight, 265 lbs.
Seat Angles - In station 60 degrees
On top of lift - 30 degrees (angle of lift) as train enters curve
At braking - 0 degrees
Returning to station - 60 degrees
"Stealth Project" artist rendering courtesy of Paramount's Great America.