Flying Coasters – Prone or Supine?

Editorials

Further to John’s post about flying coasters, I thought it appropriate to follow up with a piece I wrote a couple of weeks ago and was saving for later, but as John has already touched on the subject this seems to be as good a time as any to post my take, from a different angle.

Custom Riding Positions

Unconventional or “custom” riding positions offer a refreshing change from what has come to be accepted as the norm and flying coasters are probably the most unorthodox for positioning of riders.  While equally divergent, flying coasters offer different ride experiences depending upon whether the primary position is supine or prone.   I thought that it would be interesting to compare the two riding positions based on the four flying coasters I’ve ridden: Superman:Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Great Adventure, Galactica f/k/a Air at Alton Towers, Batwing at Six Flags America and Nighthawk at Carowinds.

Prone Position

Photo by Bobbie Butterfield

My first ride on a flying coaster (Superman), in a prone position, had me squirming from the get-go.  Not only did the position feel odd; the ascent up the lift hill made me feel as if I was about to be ejected from the train.  Once I got past the lift hill the ride was OK but at the conclusion I found myself stuck in this position with my hair falling into my eyes for four or five minutes until the train in the loading station was dispatched.  On Galactica I felt somewhat uncomfortable upon dispatch although the lift hill was fine and reentry to the station was easy because Galactica has two separate entrances for boarding so that riders aren’t stuck in that position while waiting for the next train to be dispatched.  (Galactica is far superior to Superman, featuring the fly to lie and lie to fly elements lacking on Superman but that’s a different story.)

Supine Position

Photo of author by unknown park guest

I must admit to feeling some trepidation about departing the loading area in a supine position when I decided to ride Batwing.  It just seemed weird.  However, I quickly discovered that I actually enjoyed going up the lift hill on my back and returning to the loading station in the same position.  It was a pleasure. I had the same reaction when riding Nighthawk.  These Vekoma Flying Dutchman coasters are pretty cool (see Joel’s reviews) and I look forward to riding the only other one in operation, Firehawk at Kings Island, featured in John’s post.

Preferred Position

Although the prone position more closely simulates the sensation of flying, I find the supine position far preferable for starting out.  It feels more comfortable and even more natural.  You still get the flying sensation when the ride transitions into the other position while feeling relaxed at the end of the flight.

What’s your take?  Would you prefer to begin and end a ride in the prone or the supine position?

 

 

 

 

 

Hi! I took up roller coasters late in life, 8 years ago at the age of 59 and am trying to make up for lost time. Most of my favorite coasters were made by Intamin and lately, Rocky Mountain Construction. I love Hersheypark not only because it's the sweetest place on earth but because the three major coasters are Intamins. In real life I work in the legal profession.

3 Comments

  1. I definitely prefer the supine position. We got stuck on Superman at Great Adventure for a good 20 minutes, and hanging there that long actually gave me a headache.

    I WILL say that the restraints on the Vekomas are iffy to me. I had to maintain my feet in a very specific position or I’d start sliding out the bottom of the restraint. The ride itself was actually very intense and fun, but I was terrified due to the restraints not holding me in correctly.

    Reply
    • Yes, when I got stuck outside the loading station on Batwing and Nighthawk it was no big deal, as I could just lie back and relax instead of hanging. As to the restraints, they’re the heaviest I’ve ever come across. I didn’t feel as if I was about to come out of them but on a couple of those diving moves I was thankful that they’re as heavy as they are.

      Reply
  2. Like you, I’ve ridden Batwing and Nighthawk, but for B&Ms, I’ve ridden Superman at SFGA and SFOG, Tatsu, and Manta. The B&M restraints feel pretty comfortable to me (but I have short hair), and I like the sensation of looking down while on the lift hill. On the Flying Dutchman models, I didn’t like having the sun in my eyes on the lift hill, and not knowing when the train was going to crest. Given the notoriously slow operations on the Flying Dutchman, I was pleased that Carowinds has a sun shade and fans over the brake run, as I was stuck on it for about five minutes. Face up, in the sun, unable to move, that would have been very unpleasant.

    Reply

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