Air (roller coaster)
March 16, 2002
manufacturer=Bolliger & Mabillard
model="Next Generation Flying Coaster"
"Air" is a steel flying
roller coasterlocated in the Forbidden Valley area of Alton Towersin Staffordshire, England. The ride was the first flying roller coaster to be made by Swiss manufacturers Bolliger & Mabillard. Guests ride in a prone positionand experience a feeling of flight created by "flying" close to the ground, under footpaths and gliding narrowly past objects such as trees.
Air currently sits on the site of the Beast roller coaster, which went out of operation at the end of
1997. The ride was a concept first devised in 1994, by famed roller coaster designer John Wardleyand roller coaster construction company Bolliger & MabillardFact|date=October 2008. They watched Nemesis going around it's track and decided that a new, interesting experience would be a ride similar to an inverter but in the prone positionso that the rider would be tilted forward, as if lying on their stomachwhilst on the roller coasterFact|date=October 2008.
The idea came to fruition after many years of planning, and construction on Air started towards the beginning of
2001. A lot of advertising was shown around the park towards the end of the same year. In early 2002testing started on the ride, one of the world's most technologically advanced at that timeFact|date=October 2008. This made Air the joint most expensive ride at Alton Towers, along with Oblivion at a cost of £12 million each. Special test dummies were brought in to aid with testing. The ride then took its first passengers, who were mainly the ride manufacturers and the designersFact|date=October 2008. After a little more tweaking, the ride was ready to be released to the worldin 2002.
Early difficulties with unreliability reduced towards the end of the first year and problems are now rare [ [http://www.towersalmanac.com/areas/rides.php?id=11 Alton Towers Almanac: Rides: Air ] ] .
When it was released, ride designers were saying that the way forward for roller coasters was to go higher and faster. Air's popularity suggested that this was not the case, and that in fact roller coaster enthusiasts seek unique, different ride "experiences" as well as the bigger, taller thrill rides.
The ride has become a popular one at Alton Towers, most likely due to its distinctive 'flying' roller coaster design which is unlike any of the other roller coasters at the park.
# Construction started: Mid 2001
# Designed by: John Wardley
# Manufacture: Bolliger & Mabillard
# Ride type: B&M flyer
# Constructed by: JJ Cavanagh Construction
# Programmed by: Consign AG
# Ride opened: 16th March 2002
# Total cost: Approx £12million
# Length: Approx. 840metres
# Highest drop: Approx. 20metres
# Top speed: Approx. 75kph
# Maximum Gs: 3.5Gs
# Number of trains (crafts): 3
# Passengers per craft: 28
# Max throughput per hour: 1500
# Ride duration: Approx. 90seconds
"Air" is located at the end of Forbidden Valley, near to "Nemesis". The ride has two loading bays in the station, allowing one train to be loaded while another is unloaded. Soothing modern music is piped through to the loading bay, adding to the serene setting of the ride with its light colours and concept of flying. After taking a seat and lowering the restraints, a retractable floor lowers, the station is illuminated with blue lights and the seats then rotate 90° backward leaving the passengers facing the ground.
The ride commences with a short passage through a tunnel out of the station, followed by a
lift hill. The first drop dips to the right, rises up to a 180 degree turn, and drops down in to a large drop to ground level. The track then twists over so the riders are riding on their backs, performing a large upward left turn before twisting back so riders are once again in the prone position, flying underneath a small ravine. The track then pitches up in to a tight turn before performing a 360 degree barrel roll, banking over the service garage and dropping in to a swooping anti-clockwise turnaround. The train hits the brake run and re-enters one of the two stations.
* [http://www.altontowers.com Official Alton Towers website]
* [http://www.themeparkjunkies.co.uk/index.php?act=parkguide&rgp=1&ride=41&area=22&park=4 Air data on Theme Park Junkies]
* [http://www.alton-towers.net/rideguide/ride.php?ride=41 Air at Alton Tower Net]
* [http://www.towersalmanac.com/areas/fact_file.php?id=12 Air Fact File at Alton Towers Almanac]
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