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X Flight, a Wing Coaster from Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M), is now thrilling guests at Six Flags Great America near Chicago. Paul Ruben reports


X FLIGHT T


he new ride, one of two B&M Wing Coasters opened this season in the United States (the other at Dollywood, Tennessee), turns riders upside- down five times and, best of all, threads the needle as it squeezes screaming passengers through a seemingly too-tight-to-fit keyhole. Located in the County Fair section of the park, passengers on X Flight sit in pairs, suspended on either side of the track with their feet dangling. After the massive 32-seat train has climbed to the top of the 12-storey lift hill, passengers plunge at speeds up to 55mph. They then careen along 3,000ft of intense drops and five inversions, including a barrel roll and zero-g roll. If roaring close to the ride structure is one of the secrets coaster designers use to enhance the sense of thrill, then X Flight has borrowed the technique and


B&M gives Six Flags wings


added the threat of imminent decapitation! One of the most adrenaline-pumping moments on the ride is an extreme fly-through where the coaster speeds straight toward a structure, before making a last- second vertical flip through a keyhole cut-out. Total active ride time is 75 seconds, including 25 seconds climbing the lift hill and 50 seconds in the high- speed thrill zone.


“Soaring through 3,000 ft of twisted steel with no track above or below you is an amazing experience,” says Six Flags Great America park president Hank Salemi. “It feels like you’re riding on the wing of a plane speeding through extreme turns and flips while swerving through a hangar, tower and even water elements.”


One Million Can’t Be Wrong “We offer a wide compliment of rides and attractions and X Flight continues our tradition of innovation,” adds director of park operations Dameon Nelson. “Our guests have responded very well and nearly one million people have already ridden X Flight, surpassing Batman The Ride as our second most popular attraction, second only to Raging Bull.” Not surprisingly, Nelson has ridden X Flight several times. “The interesting thing about the ride is that each


Dameon Nelson, director of park operations


30 SEPTEMBER 2012


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