Flying roller coaster

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Flying roller coaster
Manta, a flying coaster at SeaWorld Orlando.
StatusIn Production
First manufactured1997
No. of installations26
ManufacturersBolliger & Mabillard (2002-), Vekoma (2000-), Zamperla (2002-)
Restraint StyleOver-the-shoulder (most common style)

A flying roller coaster is a type of roller coaster meant to simulate the sensations of flight by harnessing riders in a prone position during the duration of the ride. The roller coaster cars are suspended below the track, with riders secured such that their backs are parallel to the track.[citation needed]


The flying roller coaster is a relatively new concept. The world's first flying roller coaster was Skytrak, built in Manchester, United Kingdom at the Granada Studios Tour in 1997.[1] The Skytrak used a single-passenger car. Riders would climb into the car in much the same fashion as climbing a ladder, then the car would be raised up to the track before being dispatched. The single-passenger design kept the ride's capacity low, at only 240 riders per hour.[1] The park, and Skytrak itself, were short-lived; both closed in 1998.



Coaster train on Firehawk at Kings Island in reclined position prior to leaving station. The train's direction of travel is to the right

Dutch roller coaster manufacturer Vekoma constructed the first large-scale flying roller coaster, Stealth, for California's Great America in 2000. Nicknamed the 'Flying Dutchman' by Vekoma, Stealth featured a higher-capacity train with four-across seating. Riders load the trains in an upright sitting position, facing the rear of the train. After the train is fully loaded, a mechanism in the station lower the seats to the track, with the riders on their backs facing the ceiling. After cresting the lift hill, the track twists 180 degrees to flip the riders into the flying position for the rest of the ride. Just prior to reaching the roller coaster's final brake run, the track twists again, such that riders are lying on their backs facing upward. After reaching the station, the seats are raised back to loading position.

Diagram showing the difference between a Vekoma Flying Dutchman and Bolliger & Mabillard Flying roller coaster

The harness system for the Vekoma flying roller coaster consists of two main elements: the lap bar and the chest harness. After being seated, the operator pulls down the lap bar, which is hinged on the floor of the train. The bar locks into slots in the sides of the seat and secures the waist. Halfway up the bar is a pair of leg restraints, which hold the legs in place during the ride. The rider then fastens the buckles to close the chest harness and secure the upper body. Hand grips are placed at the ends of the arm rests of each seat. Vekoma would expand upon the 'Flying Dutchman' prototype with two other installations in 2001, Batwing for Six Flags America and X-Flight for Geauga Lake. Of the three Vekoma Flying Dutchmans, only Batwing still operates at its original location: Stealth was relocated to Carowinds and renamed BORG Assimilator from 2004 to 2007, and now operates as Nighthawk, while X-Flight operated at Kings Island as Firehawk until October 28, 2018.

In 2009, Vekoma debuted a new, more compact flying roller coaster model nicknamed the 'Stingray' which used the same seating configuration as the original Flying Dutchman, but with Vekoma's new track style as well as a vertical lift hill. Its first installation is at the Suzhou Giant Wheel Park in Suzhou, China, which opened on August 18, 2009. The ride was removed in 2018.[2]

In 2014, Phantasialand in Brühl, Germany contracted Vekoma to design and build a new flying roller coaster to be the center piece of a new immersive themed area of the park which would also include the park's third hotel. Noting previous design limitations and issues with other flying coaster models, particularly in regard to capacity as loading procedures were slow and complex. Phantasialand pursued two objectives for the design of their new flying coaster; a simplified and streamlined loading process, and custom layout designed to fit in the limited space (100m by 75m) available as well as height restrictions imposed upon the park. Vekoma spent the next few years designing and testing a prototype system at its factory in Vlodrop, with construction on the new coaster beginning in 2016 and finishing in 2019. In 2019, Phantasialand began a teaser campaign for the new coaster, announcing the name F.L.Y. (Flying Launch Coaster). On September 17, 2020, F.L.Y. officially opened to the public.

F.L.Y. features a completely brand new loading procedure never before seen on any flying coaster model. Upon entering the station, the track and trains rotate from a prone position 90 degrees onto the side, while the seats, which are two abreast, rotate at the same time so that the passengers move from a prone "flying" position to an upright position. The passengers load into a standard seated position and pull down the over-the-shoulder vest harness. Once secure, the train is dispatched out of the station and proceeds in the upright position through a short dark ride section before the track, train, and seats rotate into the prone flying position.[3]

In addition to the new loading procedure, F.L.Y. is also the first flying roller coaster to utilize a launch system rather than a lift system. F.L.Y. features two separate LSM launches that launches trains up to a top speed of 48.5 mph (78.1 km/h) over 4,055.1 feet (1,236.0 m) of track making it the world's longest flying coaster.[4]

Since opening, F.L.Y. has been met with overwhelmingly positive reception for its innovative design, riding experience, operations, capacity, and theming that have won the coaster several industry awards.

Vekoma's flying roller coasters have a 54-inch minimum-height requirement.

Bolliger & Mabillard[edit]

Galactica (Air from 2002 to 2015) at Alton Towers, Bolliger & Mabillard's first flying coaster

Swiss manufacturer B&M debuted their flying coaster model Air in 2002, jointly developed with ride designer John Wardley. Riders take a seating position like on a regular inverted coaster with a chest harness and leglocks. They are then tilted 90° so they assume a frontwards lying position


A Zamperla flying coaster, Soarin' Eagle, when it operated as Flying Coaster at Elitch Gardens.

Italy's Zamperla produces a flying roller coaster model dubbed 'Volare' (Italian for "to fly"). Riders lie down in the cars, which hang from an upper rail at a 45 degree angle. The car is then lifted up into a flying position while holding the riders inside. This model is very compact and affordable (estimated to be US$6 million) and comes with a unique spiral lift hill in which a tall spinning column with two vertical poles connected to it push the cars up the spiral track. The minimum rider height requirement is 50 inches (127 cm).

The first Volare debuted as a prototype in 2002 as Flying Coaster at Elitch Gardens where it operated until 2007. It faced numerous technical issues that were corrected on subsequent models produced by Zamperla. After closing, Flying Coaster was returned to Zamperla where it was refurbished and installed at Coney Island as Soarin' Eagle.


A former Vekoma flying roller coaster, X-Flight formerly at Geauga Lake.
A Bolliger & Mabillard roller coaster, Superman: Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Over Georgia.
A Vekoma launched flying roller coaster, F.L.Y. at Phantasialand.
Name Park Manufacturer Opened Status Ref(s)
Skytrak Granada Studios Skytrak International 1997 Demolished [5]
Komet Encounter Zone Select Contracts 1998 Demolished [6]
Batwing Six Flags America Vekoma 2001 Operating [7]
Formerly Air
Alton Towers Bolliger & Mabillard 2002 Operating [8]
Superman: Ultimate Flight Six Flags Over Georgia Bolliger & Mabillard 2002 Operating [9]
Superman: Ultimate Flight Six Flags Great Adventure Bolliger & Mabillard 2003 Operating [10]
Superman: Ultimate Flight Six Flags Great America Bolliger & Mabillard 2003 Operating [11]
Hexenbesen Erlebniswelt Seilbahnen Thale Wiegand 2003 Operating [12]
Formerly Stealth
California's Great America

Closed 2003
Super Flight Playland Zamperla 2004 Demolished [15]
Time Warp Canada's Wonderland Zamperla 2004 Operating [16]
Volare Wiener Prater Zamperla 2004 Operating [17]
Trombi Särkänniemi Zamperla 2005 Operating [18]
Tatsu Six Flags Magic Mountain Bolliger & Mabillard 2006 Operating [19]
Crystal Wing Happy Valley Beijing Bolliger & Mabillard 2006 Operating [20]
Formerly X-Flight
Kings Island
Geauga Lake

Closed 2006
Manta Sea World Orlando Bolliger & Mabillard 2009 Operating [24]
Stingray Suzhou Giant Wheel Park Vekoma 2009 Demolished [25]
Inertia Airplane Car Kaeson Youth Park Zamperla 2010 Operating [26]
Sky Scrapper World Joyland Bolliger & Mabillard 2011 Operating [27]
Soarin' Eagle
Formerly Flying Coaster
Luna Park, Coney Island
Elitch Gardens
Zamperla 2011
Closed 2003
Hero Flamingo Land Resort Zamperla 2013 Operating [30]
Acrobat Nagashima Spa Land Bolliger & Mabillard 2015 Operating [31]
Harpy Xishuangbanna Theme Park Bolliger & Mabillard 2015 Closed [32]
The Flying Dinosaur Universal Studios Japan Bolliger & Mabillard 2016 Operating [33]
Super Glider
Formerly Flying Coaster
Skytropolis Funland
Genting Theme Park
Zamperla 2019
Closed 2013
Volare Hiz Kizagi Wonderland Eurasia Zamperla 2019 Closed [35]
F.L.Y. Phantasialand Vekoma 2020 Operating [36]
Aurora Flying Coaster Silk Road Paradise Jinma Rides 2023 Operating [37]


  1. ^ a b "Skytrak". Retrieved 2008-08-21.
  2. ^ Marden, Duane. "Stingray  (Giant Wheel Park of Suzhou)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  3. ^ Baldwin, Tim (November 2020). "Phantasialand astounds guests with record-breaking coaster, Rookburgh" (PDF).
  4. ^ "F.L.Y. - Phantasialand (Brühl, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany)". Retrieved 2023-10-15.
  5. ^ Marden, Duane. "Skytrak  (Granada Studios)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  6. ^ Marden, Duane. "Komet  (Encounter Zone)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  7. ^ Marden, Duane. "Batwing  (Six Flags America)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  8. ^ Marden, Duane. "Galactica  (Alton Towers)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  9. ^ Marden, Duane. "Superman: Ultimate Flight  (Six Flags Over Georgia)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  10. ^ Marden, Duane. "Superman: Ultimate Flight  (Six Flags Great Adventure)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  11. ^ Marden, Duane. "Superman: Ultimate Flight  (Six Flags Great America)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  12. ^ Marden, Duane. "Hexenbesen  (Erlebniswelt Seilbahnen Thale)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  13. ^ Marden, Duane. "Nighthawk  (Carowinds)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  14. ^ Marden, Duane. "Stealth  (California's Great America)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  15. ^ Marden, Duane. "Super Flight  (Playland)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  16. ^ Marden, Duane. "Time Warp  (Canada's Wonderland)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  17. ^ Marden, Duane. "Volare  (Wiener Prater)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  18. ^ Marden, Duane. "Trombi  (Särkänniemi)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  19. ^ Marden, Duane. "Tatsu  (Six Flags Magic Mountain)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  20. ^ Marden, Duane. "Crystal Wing  (Happy Valley)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  21. ^ Marden, Duane. "Firehawk  (Kings Island)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  22. ^ Marden, Duane. "X-Flight  (Geauga Lake)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  23. ^ "Lv.35 Boss on Instagram: "#firehawk #kingsisland #ripfirehawk #itsbigitsgone #demolition #rip #rollercoaster"". Instagram. Archived from the original on 2021-12-24. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  24. ^ Marden, Duane. "Manta  (Sea World Orlando)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  25. ^ Marden, Duane. "Stingray  (Suzhou Giant Wheel Park)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  26. ^ Marden, Duane. "Inertia Airplane Car  (Kaeson Youth Park)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  27. ^ Marden, Duane. "Sky Scrapper  (World Joyland)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  28. ^ Marden, Duane. "Soarin' Eagle  (Scream Zone)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  29. ^ Marden, Duane. "Flying Coaster  (Elitch Gardens)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  30. ^ Marden, Duane. "Hero  (Flamingo Land Resort)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  31. ^ Marden, Duane. "Acrobat  (Nagashima Spa Land)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  32. ^ Marden, Duane. "Harpy  (Xishuangbanna Theme Park)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  33. ^ Marden, Duane. "The Flying Dinosaur  (Universal Studios Japan)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  34. ^ Marden, Duane. "Flying Coaster  (Genting Theme Park)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  35. ^ Marden, Duane. "Volare Hiz Kizagi  (Wonderland Eurasia)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  36. ^ Marden, Duane. "F.L.Y.  (Phantasialand)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  37. ^ "Aurora Flying Coaster - Silk Road Paradise (Qindu, Xianyang, Shaanxi, China)". Retrieved 2023-10-15.