Fantastic Final Flights with the Flying Eagles.
“Save the Flyers!”
Getting the official word about the Flying Eagles leaving was bit of a shock. The rumor of the removal had been floating around the park since the start of the season, but pretty much everyone thought the ride was too popular with general public and enthusiasts to see it vanish.
I have been riding the Flying Eagles since around the age of 5 when I first visited Kings Island. There were only a few rides I wanted to ride back then. The “wooden shoes” and “spinning barrels” were among them. The Flying Eagles was the one ride I remember riding with my parents and grand parents. I thought it was cool that you could move the rudder back and forth and go higher or lower.
When I became a teenager, I lost interest in rides like the Flying Eagles because I became fascinated with roller coasters. I wouldn’t ride anything taller than The Beastie, but I would still take pictures and draw coasters at school. Once I broke my fear of the larger coasters and was bitten by the coaster bug, I didn’t care to ride the old family rides that I grew up with. Yep, I became one of those folks. You know. The “faster, faster, faster is better, better better” type of guy. Ug!
This all changed during one visit to PKI in 1997. I used to walk by the Flying Eagles because I thought the thrill of the ride wasn’t all that great. It looked like a family ride and I remember it being great back when I was much younger, but I had no idea about the real face of the ride.
I was at the park with Dave Althoff and Dave Bowers. We had just gotten a night ride on The Beast and suggested we go ride The Flying Eagles. As we were walking up to the ride I told them I would pass as it wasn’t my kind or ride. I was into the intense flats and remember the Flying Eagles as being a rather tame ride. They talked me into riding.
We were the only people riding as the park was just about to close. Sitting in that tub for the first time in more than 10 years did bring back a lot of memories, but I knew the ride was going to be tame. As the ride started I just pushed the rudder side to side and not doing much else. All the sudden I heard this loud bang behind me. I looked back and saw both Daves bouncing all over the place. I didn’t know what to think. It just looked and sounded insane. Once our ride came to a stop I asked them what went wrong. Dave explained to me the ride was meant to do that and it’s a bit of skill to get the tubs to “snap.” That was the very first time I have heard of this snapping skill. I wanted to learn how to do it but didn’t know when I would be at the park again so I kind of forgot about it.
The next year I went to Knoebels park for the first time. As you are probably aware, the park has a fantastic set of flying skooters. I was at the park with friends Chris Trotter and Rich Genthner. As we walked up to the flying skooters, Rich said he wanted to give it a ride. Chris and I followed. As we were riding we noticed a couple of other people snapping. Chris and I tried to figure out how to do it but failed. Rich on the other hand got in a couple of good ones in. Rich liked it so much that he rode again while Chris and I watched him getting in a few more snaps.
Just a couple of weeks later I ended up at PKI. I wanted to try the whole snapping thing again and rode the Flying Eagles in hopes of figuring it out. It took me a few cycles to get in my first mild snap but I was so happy I did it. A couple of friends I was with thought I was really hurting by doing that. Little did I know the ride was designed for that action.
With almost every visit to the park in between 1998 and 2000 I tried to get in one good ride on the Flying Eagles. In 2001 I learned how to control my snaps better and the ride soon became my favorite non-coaster ride in the park. There was a time in early April when almost every ride was closed do to cold temperatures, but the Flying Eagles remained opened. I rode with a few other friends. We ended up riding non-stop for over 2 hours before we took a break. My hands were so numb by the end of that stint that I physically couldn’t control the rudder anymore so I decided to stop.
Over the last few years I noticed the obvious unity associated with the ride. It was almost like a magnetic force that would automatically pull us over it once our walk-back rides on The Beast ended each morning. Call it an unofficial law if you wish. The Flying Eagles were just the right thing to do as soon as you exited The Beast. Perhaps it had something to do with the view you get at the top of the second lift. As you are at the top, Vortex, and more importantly, the Flying Eagles are down below. Some suggest our Beast rides were nothing more than a movie observation ride to make sure we could see the Flying Eagles operating.
I have had the pleasure of meeting so many cool people through the Flying Eagles. The strange thing is that I have never ridden another ride with many of them. That says something about the power of the ride.
Over the last couple of years the Flying Eagles became my favorite ride in the park. Each and every time I have pulled up to the park and looked at the skyline, I would look at all the options of fun things to ride but knew that my favorite ride at the park could not be seen from the parking lot.
Due to my strange work schedule, I wasn’t able to stay at the park until close on many occasions. James Moreland, a good friend I met in line for this ride, used to tell me the last hours on the ride were the best. Every once in a while I would be able to stay and get in at least one ride before closing, but I would never just camp out at the ride. There are many people who I associate with the Flying Eagles. James is, by far, the one person who I think bonded the most with the ride. If I ever wanted to meet up with him, I knew where he would be. It was a given.
Late last year I heard that a group of die-hard flying fans wanted to start a flying skooter club. They were throwing around some names before they came up with FAA, or Flying Addicts Anonymous. This was there way to pay tribute to their favorite ride in the park as well. Derek Clayton, Chris Clark, and Jack Larimore had the idea for the club and one day they hoped it would take off (no pun attended).
Just a few weeks ago I attended the ACE/GOCC Fall Freak Out event. It was during this event that Derek, Jack, and Chris were going to wear their new shirts with the logo for the new club. It was also during this time that the rumors of the ride leaving were getting stronger and stronger. Some people thought the ride would be moved over to the old Flight Commander position, while others thought the ride would be going to another park. One thing for certain was the park wasn’t speaking.
I spent the entire weekend at PKI during the event. The event came and went without a hitch. It was a great time. I was even going to write up a trip report about the event but just decided this afternoon that a trip report about yesterday would be a much better choice.
While the event was Saturday, it was the rumor that the Flying Eagles may be leaving that made me decide to stay all day Sunday as well. I spent most of that Sunday shooting footage of the ride from different angles and riding. I ran into James Moreland that day and he was concerned why I was taking so many pictures and shooting so much footage. I told him I wanted to document the ride just in case it wasn’t going to be here next season. We started talking about the chance of it leaving. He loves the ride so much that he said the removal would be like a “death in the family.” You see, this ride is much more than a ride to many. That afternoon one of the ride operators, Josh, told me what James had been telling me for years. Come back during the last hour to get in lots of rides. He wasn’t kidding. The last hour was like a “magic hour” or something. It was incredible.
Then it was announced.
The ride would indeed be heading off to Paramount's Carowinds. I didn’t know what to think. I know that no one from the park wanted to see it go. Corporate must have had something to do with it. Why they wanted to take this ride out was a mystery. I am certain there is a deep, dark reason behind it all. One that we may never understand. We just had to condition ourselves that this ride would no longer be here.
Protests started happening. The park started getting flooded with e-mails and phone calls from enthusiasts. Luckily, most were on the good side and just wanted to share their views. However, there were a group of people that really let the park have it. I don’t believe they understood that the park wanted the ride to remain. Remember, even the higher ups at PKI have to answer to someone, and they may not like what they have to hear or do.
I wasn’t planning on going back down to PKI until closing weekend. October is a very busy month for me at work. I usually am working at least 6 days a week and on my one day off, the parks are usually closed. The past two weekends I left work and was able to make it down to the park before closing so I could get in as many rides on The Flying Eagles as possible.
On the Sunday of October 10th I decided to head down after work for some more rides. Once I walked through the front gate I walked directly back to the Flying Eagles. I didn’t ride at first. I decided to sit down on some bricks and just watch the ride for about an hour. The line was long and filled with families. With each person that walked through the exit, a smile was created. Most people ran back and got in line for another ride. This ride isn’t just loved by enthusiasts. It is loved by most everyone.
Once I got in line I just listened to families as they were trying to explain to their children how to work the ride. Some people were snapping but I didn’t see anyone leave the line like I sometimes do when some die-hards fly. Most people don’t even realize that snapping is one of the features of the ride. Just as I was watching the ride, I noticed a few enthusiasts standing behind me. I have seen them before but only one other time. I overheard them talking about the last rides and how they deserved the last ride because they have been promoting the park more than anyone, yet, I don’t think I have ever seen anything by them promoting the park. I also heard that they planned on doing “whatever it took” to make sure the park knew that removing the Flying Eagles was a bad choice. One of them even mentioned handcuffing himself to the rudder. At first I thought this was joke and they were saying this because they knew there was another enthusiast in line, but their comments became more and more twisted. Luckily, I didn’t see them the final night.
Later on, it was also apparent that other enthusiasts knew this would be the last Sunday evening to get in a lot of rides as it was expected to be crowded the following weekend. I met up with a group of people I have never seen at the park before. I enjoyed talking to everyone about what they loved about the ride. Everyone seemed to have a different story to tell.
During the last hour I got in several rides. I was kind of bummed that I didn’t see James or more of the regulars there that night, but they were all out of state due to PPP. I made the best of it and in the process made some new friends.
Sunday the 17th.
I was planning on working until at least 3:30pm this day. On Friday evening while at work, my boss told me that I was not to work on Sunday as we were getting caught up. I had no problem with that as I would now be able to spend an entire day at the park on Sunday. As I was working on Saturday, my boss told me asked if I could work on Sunday. I almost decided to go for it but when he told me not to worry about it if I had plans I decided to pass it up.
Sunday morning I left Columbus at 7:45AM and arrived at PKI just after 9:00. It was damn cold out. I knew most of the steel coasters wouldn’t be running, but that was alright considering I didn’t plan on riding much more than the Flying Eagles.
As I pulled up to park, I looked over at a car two spaces down and couldn’t believe what I saw. Someone had painted every side of their car to read “Save the Flyers”. I couldn’t believe it. Someone really meant business.
I walked into the park and met up with a few other enthusiasts at the ACE brick. Two enthusiasts I haven’t seen in a long while, Kris Allen and Eric Walton, told me they were responsible for the painted car I saw in the parking lot. It was Kris’s car. He was hoping the paint would come out as it was some sort of special paint. I hope you got it out Kris.
I spent most of the day with Kris and Eric. There was a group of about 15 people for the ACE walk back. We knew the Beast doesn’t like cold weather but it was ready for us when we got back there. Most everyone that was part of the group went out on the first and second trains. Eric, Kris, and I went out on the third. Kris and I rode in the very front while Eric rode in the row behind us. It was just the 3 of us on the whole train.
The first part of the ride was pretty standard for a Beast ride. When we reached the shed section and hit the trims, we couldn’t believe how much the train slowed down. This isn’t a complaint. It was because there wasn’t much weight in the train, and it was cold. We went through the next tunnel at about the same speed the train leaves the loading station. No joke!
As we made our way up to the area before the second lift, we thought for a second we weren’t going to make it. We were going so slow that the chain was actually moving faster than we were because we were jolted up when we reached the lift. Yep, we didn’t even make it a car length up the lift on our own. Once we headed over the second lift, we could see the Flying Eagles running. This was the last time we would be able to see the run from this ride.
The double helix seemed pretty fast but as we headed back to the station we thought we were going to stop on the anti-rollbacks. This is not an exaggeration. We couldn’t believe it. We almost stopped before we slowly made it over and down the final brake run. As we hit the magnetic trims, we almost stopped. Usually the train has enough energy to make it through this section with no problem but we almost stopped completely. We just had to let the train coast slowly through the trims and continue on.
When we arrived back at the station we were welcomed by an empty ride station. We decided to take another ride because we had so much fun on our last ride. No kidding. While it was the slowest Beast ride I have ever gotten, it was one of the most fun. Our second ride was just as slow. Of course, we did get one last look at the Flying Eagles running from up top the second lift, but that honestly was the last time we were to get that look.
Of course, the mystic forces of the blue pyramid known as the Flying Eagles pulled us over where we would be spending most of the day. I can’t even begin to tell you how many rides I got in during the morning hours. It was quite a few. I noticed some unfamiliar faces in line. As this ride is know for doing, I met a lot of new people. One man named John drove down from Buffalo, New York just to say goodbye to the ride. I met some others whom I have seen in the line, but never met. Others I have known for a few weeks. Some for years.
Most everyone continued to ride for the first few hours. Kris, Eric and I left the ride to go eat in the Festhaus before going back to our cars to grab our cameras. We went up into the Eiffel Tower to take a few more shots before heading back to the main reason we were at the park.
Once we arrived back at the ride, the “second shift” decided to go grab something to eat. With each ride we took the line grew longer. The longest we waited was about 35 minutes. While we were waiting in line, we noticed two young girls with clip boards. They both had petitions to sign to try and save the ride. They both knew the ride was on its way out of the park but they really wanted to prove people loved the ride. We asked them if someone put them up to this. They claimed they read an article in the newspaper about the removal of the ride and were quite upset. They weren’t members of any club. They just loved the ride and they wanted to show their support.
At one point they got everyone’s attention in line and gave a small speech on why they loved the ride and encouraged people to sign the petition. They had more determination than any of the die-hard enthusiasts that showed up this day. They simply would not take no for an answer. I wasn’t the only one applauding their enthusiasm. Within the first few hours they collected over 700 signatures. It was a sight to see.
While we were standing in line throughout the day, we got to talk with many families who were really upset about the ride leaving. They also noticed the lack of the Antique Cars. How could you not? There is a cleared out area where the ride used to be. More trees were removed than what I had seen from the previous weekend. It seemed so strange to be standing in line and being able to see an un-obstructive view of the Eiffel Tower and even its red doors at the bottom.
Kris made note of the fact that there were only a few people on Vortex, while the Flying Eagles line was packed. It was obvious that more than just enthusiasts were there to enjoy a last ride. I was pretty shocked at how many people came forth and paid the park a visit to get in one last ride. With each ride, rides seemed to be getting better and better. I already had a nasty case of “Flyer Back” from earlier but thought of it more as a token of appreciation from the ride than a sore back.
While we were waiting in line during the late afternoon, I looked over and noticed John “Shaggy” Keeter stating at the ride. He didn’t get in line but just wanted to watch the ride. Once our ride was over we met up with him and asked if he wanted to ride with us. John is probably going to kill me for saying this, but I think it adds to this report. Sorry John.
John isn’t a fan of the ride. It’s been 3 years since his last ride. He doesn’t hate it. The ride just scares him. He did agree to take one last ride. Just before we got on, I could tell he was very nervous in the same way I was when I did my first attempt at skydiving. As the ride started I looked back at him sitting in his tub and could tell he wasn’t sure if he was going to enjoy it or not.
I had a great ride as usual. I enjoyed every second of it. John did get in at least one snap in, but he said it scared him. He did say he was glad he rode but he was done with the ride. I am glad I got to see someone get nervous about riding because I feed off that energy sometimes.
John wanted to get a ride on Tomb Raider before he left. He wasn’t going to be able to make it for the last rides of the night. I told him I would join him as I like Tomb Raider as well, plus, I wanted to see if what everyone was telling me was true. Some people said every ride in the park was a walk-on.
We both arrived at Tomb Raider and, sure enough, we walked onto the ride. This was the shortest line I had seen for it. We didn’t even stop in any of the rooms. We walked right onto the ride. During the ride I pointed out things that I just realized about the soundtrack. John suspected the same things but once we both got a better listen, we realized we were right. =:^)
As we were leaving Tomb Raider, we both couldn’t believe we could see Son of Beast from where we were standing. The lack of trees in the area makes for some views that we have never seen before as I mentioned above. John walked back over to the Flying Eagles with me but didn’t ride. He then left to go meet friends for dinner.
The next few hours were kind of a blur. I spent them riding with everyone else that was in line. Lisa Broadrick and her son Jake showed up. They were in Williamsburg, Virginia earlier in the day but decided that on the way home back to Columbus they would stop at PKI and try and be there for the last rides. I was glad they made it.
With each passing minute, the happy mood the folks in line had grew more and more somber. Chris Clark, (sorry about the misquote in another post, Chris) had created a kind of scrap book filled with pictures and information about the Flying Eagles. In the back of the book were blank pages for fans of the ride to sign. Everyone got to check out the book before he handed it over to the park. It was his way of looking back at the positive moments of the ride instead of dwelling on the down side. There were other variations of expression. Jack Larimore and Derek Clayton created sweatshirts with the small graphic of a Flying Eagle tub, with the name of the club (Frequent Flyers Anonymous) under it. Jack also handed out limited sticker patches he had made that read, “Thanks for the many years of thrills.” I saw some buttons going around that had the years the Flying Eagles operated at Coney Island and PKI. I also saw some “Save the Flyers” shirts that were very well done complete with a photo of the ride in action.
The one thing that worried me a bit was if everyone was going to be cool about the last rides. I had talked a bit with Maureen Kaiser before this day. The park was also worried about the way people would react to the last rides. I put in the suggestion that the park have some kind of lottery for the official last ride for enthusiasts. That way it would be fair and square. Now, I am not sure if it was solely my suggestion or the suggestion of others that mentioned the same thing, but the park decided to go for it. I know there weren’t fans of that method, but it seemed to be the easiest way to make things go smoother.
As the last hour came, people started to become visually sad. I saw tears starting to flow from more than one person. No one should be ashamed of that as everyone was feeling it. From the look of things by the exit, it appeared the park was going to do something nice for us. They had brought out a P.A., a table for a cake, and some lighting.
At around 8:15pm I walked into the line for what I thought was my last ride. Joe (jbeast) also thought this was going to be his final ride as well. Both of us had just had a great ride and it was starting to really hit home that this ride would not be here to ride again. At around 8:45pm, we took our ride. I honestly was very, very sad. I didn’t know how to react. I kept telling myself that this is “just a ride” but it didn’t work. One glimpse over at all the sad faces waiting to take a ride put me back into the reality of it all.
As we exited I asked Maureen if the small event that was going to take place would do so after the last riders would take their ride once the line closed. She assured me that nothing would start until the line was empty. This meant that we could get in at one least ride. This was a good thing as Joe and I didn’t have a very good last ride for some reason. Joe and I hurried back in line but knew this would be it. With the end of every ride there would be no sound. No one clapping. No one talking. Just silence. It was very eerie but gives you an example of how somber everyone was.
After 9:00 Joe and I hopped onto the ride for another ride. Both of us had a much better ride but when the ride came to an end, we just sat in our tubs while the ride came to a slow stop. That was it. No more. As I exited the ride I met up with James Moreland. James was really upset and didn’t want to see his baby go. He ended up leaving before the official last rides because he couldn’t take it anymore. I felt really bad for him because he has told me on numerous occasions that he doesn’t know what he would do without the Flying Eagles.
As we exited, we were asked to put our hands in a box and pull out a small piece of paper. If your paper had a small eagle on it, you were one of the lucky winners and would be able to take the last official ride. Joe and I didn’t get an eagle but I am glad. After seeing the fiasco of last season rides at Cedar Point, especially Top Thrill Dragster last year, I have not been big on getting official last rides. People fight over them among other things. I told James that if I were to get the honor of being on that last ride, I would give it to him as the ride meant much more to him than it did me. I just wanted to witness the last group of friends riding together. As long as I got in ‘a’ last ride, I was more than happy. I figured my last ride was indeed my final ride, but sometimes things aren’t what you think they are.
We waited until the last few people got rides then Maureen started talking over the P. A. She welcomed everyone and told everyone that the ride was going to Carowinds for sure. She even suggested we do a road trip to Carowinds to ride it next year. =:^)
Maureen also made an important mention that because enthusiasts have been so kind during previous events, this was the reason the park was allowed to do something and announce the closing of the ride. In other words, if anyone were to show up and cause a scene, that would be it for everyone.
Everyone that had a white piece of paper was allowed one last ride. Once those folks rode, the final 10 people would be allowed the last ride. Joe and I couldn’t believe it. We were going to get another last ride. We joined everyone else in line and watched again as everyone remained silent as the ride came to an end. You could clearly hear the fake announcements from Flight of Fear clear as day because it was so quiet.
I hopped back into a tub for one last ride, this truly being my final ride. It was a strange ride. I don’t know what happened. I know I snapped quite a bit, but I don’t remember hardly anything about the ride. I just had all kinds of memories flying through my head. It was a very strange sensation. As I left the ride for the last time I thought I would be really upset, but I honestly wasn’t. I was more confused than anything. Joe also said he had a strange ride. Other people did as well.
I walked over to Maureen to talk with her a bit. She was standing with the “Final Flying 10”. Among them were Derek Clayton and Chuck Nungester. I was glad to see them get on that final ride but I was glad to see one person in particular on that last ride. Jack “I win everything” Larimore. He is the luckiest guy I know. He has won the last two PKI scavenger hunts, the scavenger hunt that took place at Indiana Beach, as well as the chance to ride on the final flight of the Flying Eagles. Way to go Jack!
As the final 10 riders entered the ride area, lots of hoots and hollers were heard from the riders. About 50 people, including park personnel from various areas of the park showed up to watch. It was a good last ride. Once the ride stopped everyone burst into applause. I went over to the exit to see enthusiasts leave the ride once more. Jack and many others were visibly sad.
That was it.
No more rides on the Flying Eagles.
It was now time to leave. Maureen escorted us part of the way back to the front gate. Kris pointed out that it was so quiet you could clearly hear cars and trucks on the Interstate. I don’t think I have ever been in the park when it was this silent.
We thanked Maureen for everything she did. The park didn’t have to do a thing for us but knew there were going to be some upset people so they made the best out of it and decided to throw a kind of “last goodbye” party for the ride. I am really glad I got to be there for those final rides, and won’t forget about them anytime soon.
Besides the chance to get in so many rides, the people are what made the day for me. I will even go on record and say this day was my favorite time I have spent in the park. I seem to catch myself saying that a lot but my time at that park continues to impress the hell out of me.
Because of people like, Jack, Derek, Chris, Kris, Anthony, Eric, Dave A., Dave B, Joe, Danny, Patrick, Brad, Brian, John, John K., Todd, Toad, James, Judy, Don, Maria, Michelle, Chuck, Rob, David, Skylab, Karen, and everyone else I didn’t mention (sorry, I am really tired. Just insert your name here_______________________)
the cool park personnel like Josh, Tyler, James, Brandon, Maureen, Jeffrey, Jill, Bill, Matt, and Kevin, I was able to have a fantastic day. My friendships with a lot of people are much stronger now because of this day alone. Thanks PKI!
I am hoping a lot of you show up for the final Sunday the park is open. We may not have the Flying Eagles but I am sure we can still have a blast. I know a lot of people that plan on being there but hopefully I will see the faces of those that weren’t able to make it to the park last Sunday.
So there you have it. My final thoughts on my favorite ride at PKI. Right next to my computer I have two large maps that used to display at the park. I just looked at them to check out the location of the Flying Eagles. The whole area is going to look so strange without them. I am really looking forward to riding the new coaster, but part of me wonders if the whole mystic pull that the Flying Eagles used to have will continue to pull some of us in the direction of Italian Job after our morning Beast rides next year.
Check back with me next spring. There is only one way to find out….
Thanks for reading,
***I know return you to your regularly scheduled Northwest Hedonism reports, already in progress.***
. *** Edited 10/20/2004 12:33:24 AM UTC by Sean Flaharty***
Thanks for the very moving report Sean and it was great to finally spend some more time with you and everyone else there. It was truly was of the most unforgettable times I've spent at Kings Island and this is a park I've built endless mounds of memories and friendships that I can't express in words how grateful I am for.
+Danny, "I need you so much closer"
The friendships created by this ride was truly unbelievable. Everyone that I know, my friendships has just grown with all of you this weekend (you know who you are). And for all you that I just met, I am glad we got a day on the flyers together (once again you know who you are). If you dont know who I am, check out my profile an look at my pic, because I probably talked to you at some point, and if not, I wish I would have. I thank all of you that I talked to and hung out with this weekend. This weekend was truly a special weekend. And all of you is what made it special. Thank you everyone, your friendships mean a lot to me.
Thank you everyone at PKI. The employees on the Flyers this weekend, you were all completely incredible, thank you again. Jeff, Maureen, and everyone else involved thank you for the opportunity to ride a ride that means more to me than any other one last time.
Thank you all.
It really hit me on the way home. It was the quietest ride down I-71 ever.
Very well written and basically says everything good and bad in a totally respectful way.
Chuck, still numb but will have to live with it.
Sean, it has been a pleasure reading this. I too had kind of put the Flyers on the shelf for the same reason, and was drawn back to them around the same time you were. Course I was just getting out of college then, and could go places on the weekends! I started making up for lost time by getting season passes to everything under the sun. But no ride surprised me more than the Flyers. I had no idea what I had missed. And who knew that its years were numbered?
Anyways, I couldn't have asked for a better day, better pilots to chat with, and better weather. I couldn't stay for the closing but I did go out with a bang (and a few snaps here and there). :) What a ride it has been. Thanks to everyone that made this ride what it was....
HERE are some of my better pics from the day.
Like so many others, the Eagles mean so much more to me than just a ride. I moved away from Cinci to west Texas as a kid. I'm not kidding, there was absolutely nothing to do and no amusement parks within hundreds of miles. But, every summer I was able to spend time with my granparents who lived just down the road from KI. They got me a pass every year, and I lived at the park.
My whole year revolved around my summer trips to KI, and the The Beast and Eagles became an escape from every mundane Texas day. It sounds kind of silly, but the pure joy I received from these two rides during those summers, got me through many long years of my life.
This past Sunday and the final rides were a bit surreal for me. It hit me harder than I expected, but luckily I spent the day with quite a few friends who obviously felt the same way.
I thank everyone at PKI for giving us a heads-up and letting us have a final goodbye. It means alot.
Nice write up, I was real damn close to buying a round trip ticket from Denver to Cincy for Sunday but then Loveland Ski area opened and my priorities changed from summer/fall straight to winter in a few days.
The Eagles will truly be missed, especially since I can't get the flying skooters at Lakeside to snap.
I've never met a flyer I couldn't snap until SeaBreeze and that was because the wings were seriously modified. Not even real flyer wings but plastic sails that had much less surface areas.
Chuck, who will get to lakeside someday and hopes they scooters are still there when he does.
IMO, if you don't understand the significance of the Flying Eagles at King's Island, you truly are missing out on one of the best niche rides on the planet. It truly is much more about the people than the ride.
Great trip report as usual. Your observations for the Flying Eagles remind me of how I was the weekend that the Whizzer was supposed to close. As I waited in line for it, I watched and listened to families. It was sad to see little kids riding with their parents, to see the huge smiles on their faces, and to think that after August 12, 2002, we wouldnt see that more. Well, as fate would have it, the Whizzer stayed and Shockwave left (as is currently being scrapped in the employee parking lot). Contrary to popular belief, the Whizzer removal wasnt a ploy, working at the park I found this out. After its scheduled date of closure, no one was scheduled to work the ride, and some people had been relocated to other places. Unfortunately, the Flying Eagles will not get the same fate. I know what its like for PKI fans, as the Eagles is defiantely the Whizzer of PKI.
I rode the Eagles probably 10 times since my first visit to the park in 2000, and the final ride of the year I got in 2002 was, and still remains, the best flyers ride I have ever got on any flying scooter. The final ride ever at PKI on the Eagles came this May, and it was also memorable. I took a friend of mine to the park for her first time and rode with her on the Eagles. Only once before had I ridden the Eagles with another person and wasnt able to get any kind of snapping going (as i have heard it really only works good when you go solo). For this ride however, it was not the case. I had that tub buckling and snapping like crazy, as I scared the life out of my friend. She clung onto me as if she was going to die! I am so very glad that is my last memory of the ride. Fun with friends is what that ride was all about.
BTW, I couldnt get the song "Broken Wings" for Mr. Mister out of my head as I read your report. Maybe you should make a video of the ride using that for the song...would be kind of fitting.
Andrew "Eagles rule!" Hartman *** Edited 10/19/2004 4:01:44 PM UTC by SFGAm Viper***
The ride was kind of a make or break thrillseeker ride.
I seen some parents go nuts about people snapping and others who had done it all their lives and even grew up with the ride at Coney or one of the variously few parks that have or had them. I seen kids that would cry before getting on suddenly get a gleam in their eyes and become very happy and thrilled from it and want to ride it again and again. I also seen kids that werent aftraid of it at all but were afterwards or got sick. Believe it or not, This was the ride I seen the most instances of someone getting sick on.
In that aspect you could pretty much tell who was up for a big coaster or not just by how they reacted to it. There are some who didn't like it and do like coasters of about any type or size. I do however think that was a very small minority.
Chuck, who's close to putting the final chapter behind him but can't just yet give up the hope that someone, someway can change the decision. *** Edited 10/19/2004 6:06:58 PM UTC by Charles Nungester***
Yes, I agree. I thought it was great to hang out with you more this time. I had no idea you and Patrick live in the Columbus area.
Dude1 We need to take another Beast ride together! That was incredible.
That's a funny picture. I think we talked a few times if remember correctly.
Thanks. Even though I didn't see much of you that day, it was great that you showed up that night. I just wish others would have shown up as well.
Thanks for sharing those great pictures! I loved the comments as well.
I could tell you were feeling the same exact way I was during our last rides. We both were confused on how to act. Usually emotion comes out of me easily, depending on the event, but that was just strange. The drive back to Columbus was really quick, but I am sure some of the angry music I brought with me had something to do with that. =:^)
I would have been shocked had I seen you at the park for the final rides. You would have had the record for the longest distance traveled that day, unless there is someone else I don't know about.
I could not get the Lakeside version of the ride to snap at all, and I knew exactly what to do. I did end up taking out part of a tree above the entrance, but snapping didn't happen. I was just able to go really high, but going back down didn't result in any bouncing at all.
Thanks bro! I hope you have as much fun on the ride as we did at PKI. Perhaps a whole new group of regulars will show up and enjoy the ride in the same manner as many of us did.
Thanks for clearing up the Whizzer rumor as a few of us were talking about it on Sunday. I did shoot a lot of footage of the ride in action during the last couple of weeks, and I did plan on doing a video at one point. Using the song "Broken Wings" was an idea as well as a few other songs I am thinking of, but then again, I would be happy with just using the sounds of the ride as the soundtrack as it was music to most of us.
It's a shame you didn't ride. I do think it is a good thing that the ride is getting a new life at another place. Could you imagine what the reaction would have been if the park would have just scrapped the ride?
Thanks for the observations. I wish a few ride operators that used to work the ride would post or e-mail me with some funny stories about guest reactions. I have heard of a few good stories but I know there are more out there.
Tyler? Josh? Brandon? Brad? Rick? Are you reading?
Ya know, it is about more than the ride, but at the same time, it's about THE ride. I am so sad that they are leaving and I don't think it has really hit home yet. It was really cool of the park to do what they did for us. And for the record, I think those two little girls have to be the coolest people I have ever in my life seen. They are going to grow up to be someone, important people. Thanks to everyone that was there and kept it peaceful.
:( *** Edited 10/20/2004 1:43:51 AM UTC by eric.walton***
I agree with what you said about those girls. Luckily we weren't the only ones that told them they were doing a great job or they may have quit.
Hopefully I will see you guys again on closing Sunday, as jam packed as it may be.
That was the best trip report I've ever seen for anything!
While I don't go down to PKI as often as I would like to (the six-plus hour drive being the main reason), I've always tried to at least head out to PKI twice a year for a few rides on the Flying Eagles. Sometimes I've even gone for just an hour only to ride the Flying Eagles.
While the Flying Eagles will be missed, I sure hope a new group of Flyers fans starts up in the Carolinas now that they have one of the best sets that exists!
As for Maureen Kaiser's road trip to Carowinds comment, I think that's an excellent idea.
It was great meeting you, Sean! And everyone else too (Derek, Cameron, Todd, Lisa, Jake, Brandon, Tyler, Dave, Dave, etc.).
Even though it was a sad day, it was also a lot of fun - and that last ride on PKI's Flying Eagles has become one of my favorite amusement park memories ever.
Tyler? Josh? Brandon? Brad? Rick? Are you reading?"
Not sure which Josh you were talking about, but this one is reading :-) Back in 1995 when I was Supervisor of the Eagles (actually Vortex, Shake Rattle n Roll, and Eagles), snapping wasn't nearly as commonplace as it is today. We had a couple of regulars who had mastered the art, but since they were few and far between, people just weren't used to seeing the ride perform in that way.
When someone did get their tub a rockin', the reactions were priceless. I can't even count the number of times myself or my crew was yelled at, cursed at, threatened, or accused of being poor operators because people were snapping. I saw people get out of line because they were afraid the ride was broken. One guy told me he had seen one of the tubs fly off and over into the Vortex area because someone was riding "improperly."
I recall one time in particular when I was doing one of our regular test rides. I had my tub snapping better than ever before. About 15 minutes later, a guy comes up to me (who had been waiting in line) and said that in addition to having me fired, he planned to call OSHA and inform them of our unsafe behavior. No matter how hard I tried, there was no explaining to him the truth about the ride. Funny, I never did hear any more about that one... :-)
I have lots of great memories about the ride and I will miss it a lot. I suffered a double-whammy this year because I also lost Tiques, which was the ride I started on in 1994 (and worked for 3 years). I know park regulars are sad when they lose a ride, but trust me when I say that it is just as hard for employees (or former employees in my case) who have spent thousands of hours working them.
I was at the park on Sunday, but I didn't ride the Eagles. I took my last rides a couple of weeks prior. I had made peace with that. Instead, I just spent a few minutes with my wife and 5 month old daughter watching the enjoyment on everyone's face for one last time. I was sad because I knew I wouldn't get to experience that particular ride with my daughter someday. I know it will bring happy memories to families at Carowinds, and there is a small comfort in that.
Sean, I saw you and John leaving TRTR, but couldn't catch you in time to say hello. I had potato works fries in one hand and a Coke in the other, and I wasn't willing to risk a run down the mall with those circumstances. Maybe I'll run in to you on the last day.
Thanks! It's great that you found your way to Coasterbuzz and posted. It was great meeting you at the ride and talking with you in line as the day went on.
First off, great name. Second of all, if you click the link below, you will be taken to a topic that is currently going on in the main forum. Chris Clark put together an incredible scrap book and there are many photos of the Flying Eagles in action among other cool things. Please go download it as it really is nice.
You weren't the original Josh I was talking about but it is great to see you posting on here as well. Congrats on being a new father! Too bad I didn't see you as we were leaving TR:TR or I would have said hello.
Thanks for sharing your stories. I have seen a few instances where guests have come up to ride operators and complained about the snapping, but I am glad the ride operators told guests the truth about the ride.
Just two weeks ago while a lot of us were snapping, a woman came over to the exit and kind of chewed out one of the operators. She couldn't believe that the operator was "allowing the cars to bounce off the ground" and was going to leave a complaint at GR. =:^)
Flying Eagles gone.....it has not sunk in yet. They were mostly removed from PKI yesterday, only the pyramid center remains.
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