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A Paratrooper also known as an "Umbrella Ride" is a type of fairground ride based on cars suspended below a wheel which rotates at an oblique angle. The cars are free to rock sideways and swing out under centrifugal force and the wheel rotates. Invariably, the cars on a paratrooper have an umbrella or other shaped canopy above the riders. In contrast to modern thrill rides, the Paratrooper is a ride suitable for almost all ages (except for infants and very small children).
Older Paratroopers have a rotating wheel which is permanently raised, which has the disadvantage that riders can only embark, two at a time, as each car is brought to hang vertically at the lowest point of the wheel. (Some models do have a lower platform that is slightly raised on the ends that could permit the loading of up to three cars at a time). Most of these were made by either Bennett, Watkins or Hrubetz. The German manufacturer Heintz-Fahtze also made larger models under the Twister name. Most of these rides require the rider to be at least 36 inches tall with an adult and over 48 inches tall to ride alone.
More modern Paratroopers use a pneumatic lifting piston to raise the ride to its riding angle before spinning the cars. In its lowered position, all the cars hang vertically near the ground and can be loaded simultaneously. The above manufacturers also made these types. The height requirement remains pretty much the same.
The Force 10 is a ride made by Tivoli Enterprises that features some of the same motion of the Paratrooper. The Star Trooper is a variant created by Dartron Industries that features seats facing both ways. The Star Trooper's initial design eventually evolved into the Cliffhanger, also by Dartron Industries.
The same seats for this ride is used in the Swift-o-plane and the same height requirement in the Enterprise (ride).
- On July 31, 1979, at the privately owned Belmont Park in Montreal, Canada, two children were injured when one of the cars separated from the Paratrooper ride and slammed into the concrete base of a nearby lamp post. The entire ride was dismantled shortly afterward and its ultimate fate is unknown.
- All the Fun of the Fair description of the Paratrooper.
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