The Reverse Bungee (catapult bungee/Ejecton Seat/Sling Shot) is a modern type of fairground ride that was invented by Troy Griffin in circa 1978. His dream was to create a safer, yet more extreme bungee jumping experience.
The ride consists of two telescopic gantry towers mounted on a platform, feeding two elastic ropes down to a two-person passenger car constructed from an open sphere of tubular steel. The passenger car is secured to the platform with an electro-magnetic latch as the elastic ropes are stretched. When the electromagnet is turned off, the passenger car is catapulted vertically with a g-force of 3–5, reaching an altitude of between 50 and 80 metres (180–260 ft).
The passenger sphere is free to rotate between the two ropes, giving the riders a chaotic and disorienting ride. After several bounces, the ropes are relaxed and the passengers are lowered back to the launch position.
Unlike the Skyscreamer, the Slingshot manufactured by Funtime uses cables and a patented spring propulsion device incorporating up to 720 specially designed springs. The current model can propel riders 150 m high at speeds of 160 km per hour.
Safety and possible injury
In August 1998, Jérôme Charron died in a reverse bungee ride accident at the Ottawa Exhibition in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada when he was hurled 40 m into the air before plummeting to his death as his harness had detached. In February 2000, the firm responsible for the ride, Anderson Ventures, was fined $145,000 for this incident. Provincial inspectors had inspected the ride just 4 days before the incident and approved it, but did not see the strap because it was in a nearby box.
Ordinarily, the bungee cord is changed to adjust the body weight of different riders. The operator in Ottawa instead used a lead between the carabiner and the bungee cord for this purpose. Using a lead is faster than changing the cord, so more rides can be offered; however, using a lead is less safe than switching bungee cords. The problem occurs when the lead cord wraps around the carabiner, tightens and through friction undoes the twisting safety mechanism that keeps the carabiner locked. In this case, the operator was using dual carabiners. On the bounce back up, the lead cord tightened, causing both carabiners to open. This fact was discovered by the Ottawa Police who investigated the death. A video of the incident depicts it.
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