Coaster designers have come up with another wacky way to impart thrills: the wing coaster. The first announced wing coaster in North America will open in 2012 at Six Flags Great America as X-Flight. It is one of many new, wonderful roller coasters debuting in 2012. You can also see what else is coming to all of the parks in the new Six Flags rides in 2012 guide.
X-Flight Coaster Stats
- Location: Six Flags Great America in Gurnee (near Chicago), Illinois
- Type of coaster: Wing.
- Height: 120 feet
- Top speed: 55 mph
- Track length: 3000 feet
- Height requirement: 54 inches
- See the new coaster: X-Flight Preview Photo Gallery
X-Flight Preview Video
X Marks the Left and Right SpotsSo what in the world, you are likely thinking, is a wing coaster? Instead of seats that are positioned above the tracks (or in the case of inverted coasters, below the tracks), the seats on a wing coaster straddle the left and right sides of the tracks. Each of X-Flight's 4-seat cars will have two seats suspended on either side of the track, something akin to the wings of a bird.
As the chassis of the train negotiates the track, riders at the outer edges will swoop and soar through all of the coaster's elements. The cars have no floors, so riders will have nothing beneath or above them. And the riders on the outermost seats will have nothing to one side of them either. Talk about exposed! The stripped-down cars are really nothing more than flying seats.
X-Flight and other wing coasters are not the first thrill machines to place seats alongside the tracks. Coasters such as X2 and Green Lantern, both at Six Flags Magic Mountain have seats that straddle the track, but unlike the fixed seats on wing coasters, the seats on so-called fourth dimension coasters can rotate on separate axes (think of Ferris wheel seats married to a roller coaster train). X-Flight won't offer any fourth-dimension seat spinning, but it will offer riders the opportunity to experience a series of elements from a unique perspective.
After scaling the 120-foot lift hill, the train will swoop to the right and tackle the first drop at a precariously over-banked angle. Riders will then encounter a corkscrew, the first of five inversions, and duck into a brief tunnel.
Perhaps the most unique element of the ride will be the keyhole maneuver. Instead of a head chopper, X-Flight will feature a wing chopper. Racing towards a support beam made to look like an airport control tower, alarmed riders will face a narrow opening that looks as if it will clip the wings -- their seats -- of the cars. At the last moment, the cars will rotate 90 degrees to slip through the tower's keyhole sideways. Make sure your tray tables are in their locked and upright positions!
It doesn't appear that X-Flight will offer much in the way of negative-G airtime, and will really be more about the unique seating arrangement and acrobatic maneuvers than traditional coaster thrills. With the loss of Iron Wolf (the standup coaster will be transferred to Six Flags America in Maryland), X-Flight will maintain the Six Flags Great America coaster count at a lucky thirteen.