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Nighthawk (roller coaster)

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Nighthawk entrance sign.jpg
Previously known as Stealth (2000-2003), Borg Assimilator (2004-2007)
Park section Carowinds Plaza
Coordinates 35°06′10″N 80°56′30″W / 35.10278°N 80.94167°W / 35.10278; -80.94167Coordinates: 35°06′10″N 80°56′30″W / 35.10278°N 80.94167°W / 35.10278; -80.94167
Status Operating
Opening date March 20, 2004 (2004-03-20)
Replaced Carolina Sternwheeler Riverboat
California's Great America
Coordinates 37°23′46″N 121°58′14″W / 37.396166°N 121.970476°W / 37.396166; -121.970476
Status Relocated to Carowinds
Opening date April 1, 2000 (2000-04-01)
Closing date September 2, 2003 (2003-09-02)
Cost US$17,000,000
Replaced Yankee Clipper
Replaced by Boomerang Bay
General statistics
Type Steel – Flying
Manufacturer Vekoma
Model Flying Dutchman
Lift/launch system Chain
Height 115 ft (35 m)
Drop 103 ft (31 m)
Length 2,766 ft (843 m)
Speed 51 mph (82 km/h)
Inversions 5
Duration 1:50
Max vertical angle 53°
Capacity 1000 riders per hour
G-force 4.3
Height restriction 54 in (137 cm)
Trains 2 trains with 6 cars. Riders are arranged 4 across in a single row for a total of 24 riders per train.
Fast Lane Plus only available
Nighthawk at RCDB
Pictures of Nighthawk at RCDB

Nighthawk is a steel flying roller coaster from Vekoma located at Carowinds amusement park. Originally opening as Stealth at California's Great America on April 1, 2000, the roller coaster was the first flying roller coaster model in the world. In 2003, Paramount decided to relocate the roller coaster to Carowinds. It reopened as Borg Assimilator – the first coaster in the world to be themed to Star Trek – on March 20, 2004. After Cedar Fair purchased Carowinds in 2006, Paramount themes were soon removed from the park, and the ride was renamed Nighthawk. It is one of only three Flying Dutchman models still in existence from Vekoma.


Paramount's Great America (2000—2003)[edit]

On June 22, 1999, Paramount's Great America announced Stealth as "the world's first true flying coaster."[1] For Stealth to be installed, the lower flume of Logger's Run had to be altered and the Yankee Clipper had to be removed.[2] The ride officially opened to the public on April 1, 2000.[3] On August 21, 2003, it was announced Stealth would close on September 1 to make room for a new water park, Boomerang Bay.[4] The station and several footers are still located in the water park today.

Carowinds (2004—present)[edit]

On August 21, 2003, Carowinds announced a new flying roller coaster that would be relocated from California's Great America.[5] The ride's name was not announced at the time. On January 15, 2004, it was announced the new roller coaster would be named Borg Assimilator and would be the first Star Trek themed roller coaster.[6][7] Regarding the design of the attraction, Dale Kaetzel, Vice President of marketing and Assistant General Manager, said:[7]

Nighthawk subsequently replaced the Carolina Sternwheeler Riverboat, a paddle boat ride that took riders around the seven themed areas of the park.[8] It officially opened to the public on March 20, 2004.[9]

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company purchased Carowinds in 2006 and did not own the rights to several licenses used by the park.[10] In 2008, the park renamed several attractions including Borg Assimilator. It was renamed to Nighthawk and the Star Trek theming was removed, including the black sphere that was in the pond underneath the ride.[11] In 2009, Nighthawk was painted with dark blue supports and yellow track.[10]

Ride experience[edit]


Nighthawk when it was known as Borg Assimilator.

The steel track is approximately 2,766 feet (843 m) in length and the height of the lift is approximately 115 feet (35 m).[9] While at California's Great America, the track was painted red and white with steel gray supports. When the ride was relocated to Carowinds, the track was repainted black and green and the supports remained gray. After the name was changed in 2008, the ride was once again repainted with yellow track and blue supports.[10]

Nighthawk has a total of five inversions. It features one vertical loop, a double corkscrew, two "Lie to Fly" and two "Fly to Lie" elements. Each "Lie to Fly" and "Fly to Lie" element is counted as a half inversion.[12][13] A "Lie to Fly" element is when riders are on their backs, facing the sky and they are flipped and face the ground.[14] A "Fly to Lie" element is the opposite.


Once riders are seated and restrained, the train tilts backwards into a 'lay-down' position and dispatched. The train travels backwards out of the station, turns left and travels up the 115-foot (35 m) lift hill. Once the train reaches the top of the lift hill, it dips down into a twist (called a "Lie-to-Fly") that turns the trains upside down into a flying position where riders face the ground. After the twist, the train travels down the first drop, reaching speeds of 51 mph (82 km/h). Riders then go through an over banked Horseshoe Curve element. Following the Horseshoe, the train enters a "Fly-to-Lie" element that turns riders back to a lay-down position. After the banked turn, the ride enters the 66-foot (20 m) tall vertical loop, where riders experience 4.3 G's. The train then goes into another "Lie-to-Fly" element. Following the loop, riders go through another turn into the final "Fly-to-Lie" element before entering two consecutive corkscrews before making a right turn onto the brake run.[15]


Nighthawk when it was known as Borg Assimilator in the double corkscrew. (Parts of the theming can be seen)

While the ride was located at California's Great America, there was no theme for the ride. When it was relocated to Carowinds in 2004, it was built as the first Star Trek themed roller coaster in the world. It was renamed Borg Assimilator and the story was that "Borg crash-landed in the middle of Carowinds and their ship – a giant gray and black sphere – has come to rest near the park's new flying roller coaster."[7] There was a gray and black sphere located in the pond underneath the ride that the Borg crashed in. In addition to other theming, a voice was played surrounding the ride saying Borg quotes.[16] After Cedar Fair bought the park, all the Star Trek theming was removed and the name was changed for the 2008 season.[11]


Nighthawk currently operates with two trains. Each train has six cars that have four seats in a single row for a total of 24 riders.[9] Riders are restrained by an over the shoulder restraint and a lap bar. Riders can put on the over the shoulder restraint but a ride operator will push down the lap bar.[17] While in the station, the trains will recline back to the laying down position.[17]


On March 17, 2007, seven employees received minor injuries when their seats changed position during a test run of the roller coaster. An inspection discovered that the ride operator accidentally pushed a button controlling the seat positions while the ride was in motion. That button was later modified to only work when the ride is stopped.[18][19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Paramount's Great America Unveils "Project Stealth" World's First True Flying Coaster For 2000". Ultimate Roller Coaster. June 22, 2009. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Great America parks - Logger's Run". Great America Parks. Retrieved November 12, 2012. 
  3. ^ Marden, Duane. "Stealth  (Paramount's Great America)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Stealth Roller Coaster To Close After Only 3 Years". Ultimate Roller Coaster. August 21, 2003. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Carowinds to Add First Flying Roller Coaster in 2004". Ultimate Roller Coaster. August 21, 2003. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Paramount's Carowinds announces name of new coaster". Coaster-Net. January 15, 2004. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c "Paramount's Carowinds "Boldly Goes Where No One Has Gone Before"™ with Borg Assimilator™". Roller Coaster DataBase. January 15, 2004. Retrieved November 12, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Carolina Sternwheeler Riverboat". Carowinds Early Years. Retrieved November 11, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c Marden, Duane. "Nighthawk  (Carowinds)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c "Nighthawk at Coaster-Net". Coaster-Net. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b O'Daniel, Adam (March 29, 2008). "Carowinds slashing season ticket prices". The Herald. Retrieved November 12, 2012. 
  12. ^ Marden, Duane. "Lie to Fly". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  13. ^ Marden, Duane. "Fly to Lie". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Flying Coasters". Coaster Force. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Nighthawk POV". YouTube. 
  16. ^ "Nighthawk (formerly Borg Assimilar) at Theme Park Sushi". Theme Park Sushi. Retrieved November 12, 2012. 
  17. ^ a b "Stealth (ACN Review)". America Coasters. Retrieved November 12, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Ride Malfunction At Carowinds Blamed On Human Error". WSOC-TV. March 20, 2007. Archived from the original on August 7, 2012. Retrieved March 23, 2007. 
  19. ^ "Carowinds employees injured in roller coaster test". March 18, 2007. Retrieved March 22, 2016. 

External links[edit]