A new roller coaster opens in Georgia

A new roller coaster opens in Georgia

A small family-owned amusement park in the wooded suburbs south of Atlanta that used to bring in customers for its simple attractions such as a Ferris wheel, bumper boats, tilt-a-whirl, go-kart track, Scooby swing and batting . cage.

But as of this year, Fun Spot America Atlanta With the unveiling of a spectacular ride, it has transformed itself into a destination for roller coaster enthusiasts in the country. Airforce One,

It towers over a green landscape, its steel tracks glinting in the Georgia sun. Its 154-foot-tall hill and steep first drop are visible from Highway 85, beckoning and intimidating passersby.

The ride is one of the latest designed by Rocky Mountain Construction, a roller coaster manufacturer that has become one of the most innovative in the business over the past nearly decade. The company is a particular favorite among roller coaster fans, who make special trips to theme parks around the country to check out the latest advances in thrill-seeking. And Rocky Mountain Construction’s latest creation was the main reason I visited the Fun Spot on a recent Saturday.

Another manufacturer on the wow list is Bolliger & Mabillard, a Swiss firm focused on bold, smooth steel rides, including a new stand-up roller coaster at SeaWorld Orlando. Yet another company, Intamin, has made a name for itself with launch coasters and rides of extreme height and speed.

You’ll hear abbreviations for these companies – “RMC” for Rocky Mountain Construction; “B&M”s for Bolliger and Mabillard—tossed at events attended by roller coaster fans, including the annual Coastermania! Cedar Point Theme Park in Sandusky, Ohio. Fun Spot America The day before my trip to Atlanta, I was at Coastermania! Revelers riding roller coasters built by each of these three top designers.

Events such as Coastermania! Give roller coaster enthusiasts like me a chance to soak in the details of a great ride with like-minded people. We can express what’s cool about the various ups and downs, discuss rumors of what’s happening at theme parks around the world, and roller coasters early in the morning, before the parks officially open. We have special times to ride (and ride again) public.

This year, we talked a lot about RMC while in line for Steel Vengeance, one of the most spectacular and ambitious coasters the company has ever built.

The manufacturer is known for taking old wooden roller coasters whose rides have become too rough and re-fitting them with steel track, keeping much of the wood structure and turning the ride into a hybrid coaster. Has been given.

Fred Grubb, who founded RMC with Suan Dedman, teamed up with engineer Alan Schilke to come up with his own brand, i-Box Track, for this purpose. This innovation allows for creative tricks, such as overbanked turns and inversions that give those onboard a feeling of weightlessness.

For the AirForce One, recently unveiled on Fun Spot, RMC didn’t just retrofit the old wooden coaster, but built it from scratch with steel supports. The most talked about element of the ride is its zero-G stall. Riders are inverted in an arc and for about four seconds feel as if they are floating. The Fun Spot says its new roller coaster has the longest zero-g stall in the country.

Airforce One is named after Fun Spot America chief executive and owner, John Airey Jr., who said in a news release that the jet-themed coaster “is a tribute to my father and his passion for flying. ” And, boy, does it fly? Once you’re on top of the lift, the ride is completed in a relatively short 45 seconds, but not a second is wasted.

After the first drop, the ride goes into what RMC calls the Raven-Truss Dive. In this part of the ride, the track flips you over and sends you diving on the other side. From there, the Airforce One manages to fit in two barrel rolls before concluding with four swift airtime hops that bounce you off your seat before ending too early.

“I have seen Jesus and am back,” said a panicked rider behind me.

In the station before my third ride, a girl who had climbed into her seat before the ride started crying and asked her father if they could get off. Well they said, which was probably the right choice as the Airforce One packs a surprising wallop. That said, I rode it seven times.

Before one of my rides, I noticed two guys in line wearing roller coaster T-shirts from other parks (Mako at SeaWorld Orlando and Time Traveler at Silver Dollar City). I realized that they, like me, were doing some degree of coastal tourism.

They said they came to Fun Spot from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and one of them, Brandon Cummings, recently started a YouTube channel, Coasternotes. They were both influenced by the Airforce One. “It’s definitely more aggressive than I expected,” said Mr. Cummings, “but he got it done.”

So really, what is the secret of RMC creation? What is it about this company that people are talking about and trekking across the country to ride its coasters? How does the company keep doing this? In a video call, I spoke with Jake Kilcup, director of engineering for Rocky Mountain Construction, about the company’s design strategy and goals. Below are edited excerpts from that conversation.

How long have you been involved with Rocky Mountain Construction?

I started with the company in 2009. I came as a designer and draftsman. I have bachelor degree in architecture. So I grew up with attractions in the houses and got into roller coasters.

So you were there at a pivotal time of change.

I came when the company had come up with the i-box track concept and bagged its first contract.

How has I-Box Track changed the steel coaster?

In the past, when it came to steel coasters, they were all made from pipe, almost like a giant exhaust bender bending heavy-duty pipe into shape. But what we’re going to do is take a steel plate and make a double webbed I-beam with a rail box. We are running on a flat surface, while most other steel roller coasters are running on a rounded surface.

What difference does it make?

When we fabricate with plate steel, we are not physically bending anything to the point where it is changing shape in any way. All those track pieces were made by hand and with the help of clamps. So it really has been able to make it the smoothest roller coaster in the world.

Your ride features fun elements such as wave twists that turn riders horizontal and zero-g rolls that turn riders upside down. Where do these thoughts come from?

Well, Alan Schilke, who is kind of a legend in the industry, makes all the layouts for our rides. And the Drevs who are his disciples. We talk all the time about how to recreate that feeling of doing a certain trick on a snowboard or on skis. This is something that most people would never do in their life as it is difficult and risky. And how do we get it on a roller coaster, where it’s essentially free but you still get that incredible feeling?

Besides Ariforce One, do you have any good recent examples of an RMC-style element?

We’re opening a ride in Hershey, PA right now called wildcat’s revenge, The first big element of the ride, just above the drop hill, is Underfoot, which is a snowboard trick. It’s barrel-rolling on one side but then twists on the other. That’s straight out of extreme sports, right there.

The Ariforce One is a tiny coaster with a lot of power. What are you most proud of achieving on this journey?

We had some design constraints due to zoning. They were painful at the time, but they lead to creativity that you might never have if you didn’t have them. We have some elements that go over a building in the fun spot, and we had a roof we had to live under, which required a very aggressive barrel roll right up the building. There are a lot of fascinating things in that ride. But I’m always looking for more subtle surprises on each ride, and that barrel roll sneaks up on people.

There’s an element here that I haven’t seen before. Can you describe the raven-truss dive?

A raven turn is essentially a half loop. We go on top, we get inverted, and then we dive straight back to the ground. It is roughly a combination of a barrel roll and a loop.

And then there’s the signature zero-G stall right after that. How did you manage to make it the biggest in the country?

It really comes down to speed, because our goal is to be at zero-g throughout that stall. So you’re not sitting in your seat, and you’re not hanging onto the lap bar. You’re just floating like an astronaut, that’s the feeling you’re going for. So we have to take what we believe our normal speed is going to be and then design that entire element around that speed to hold that zero-g. And there’s nothing between you and the ground 90 feet below.

The scale of this ride is larger than all of the other rides at Fun Spot America Atlanta. How did you have to design this big aggressive coaster in this small park?

Fun Spot grabbed us and said, “Hey, we’re interested in doing something.” And I’ll be honest, the first thing we thought about was, well, how do we get a good price for them on a smaller scale? And he said, “No, no, stop now. We want something bigger. We want to punch. We’re looking for something that’s going to get people’s attention.’ And right then, we were on the ship.

The above video of aboard the Airforce One was captured at a slow frame rate.

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