|Description||Riders are positioned in a face-down position underneath the track.|
|First Installation||Skytrak (1997)|
|Oldest in Operation||Batwing (2001)|
|Newest Installation||Flying Dinosaur (2016)|
|Manufacturers||Bolliger & Mabillard - Vekoma - Zamperla|
A flying roller coaster is a type of a roller coaster with cars designed to simulate the sensations of flight. Riders travel in a lying-down position roughly parallel to the track. Flying roller coasters come in a variety of sizes and designs depending on the intended demographic for the ride. Some flying roller coasters are intended for children and, thus, are relatively slow and gentle; others are meant for older children and adults and can be very fast and intense.
The world's first flying roller coaster was Skytrak, built in Manchester, United Kingdom at Granada Studios in 1997. 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. The park, and Skytrak itself, were short-lived, both closing in 1998, but nevertheless the ride was the first of its kind.
Vekoma expanded upon the flying roller coaster concept by developing a higher capacity variant which could deliver a more flexible layout. Six Flags America opened Batwing in 2001, the first of only three installations of Vekoma's Flying Dutchman model. Riders enter one of two loading platforms in the duel station, allowing for three trains to operate at once, with one train completing the layout whilst the other two load and offload riders, increasing capacity. Batwing's trains also feature six cars of four rows, allowing for a maximum of 24 riders per train, further increasing capacity. To bring riders into a flying position, the train is boarded as if a traditional sit-down roller coaster. Once the train is cleared for dispatch, the car pivots backwards from the base of the seats until it is roughly parallel to the track, placing riders on their back. Immediately following the lift hill, riders undergo a lie to fly to achieve the prone position before experiencing a horseshoe, a fly to lie, a vertical loop, another lie to fly, two in-line twists, a helix and a final fly to lie before being halted by the final brake run.
In 2009, Bolliger & Mabillard decided to improve upon the concept with the introduction of Manta in SeaWorld Orlando. Unlike Vekoma, this coaster has a hanging track and cars. When the ride starts, the seats get rotated onto the cars and the train departs. The ride also has a pretzel loop, an in-line twist, a corkscrew, and another in-line twist before the ride ends.
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