Knoebels' obsession with bringing back the Flying Turns

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Knoebels spent eight obsessive years building and rebuilding a faithful replica of the slow, squat and serpentine coaster that disappeared from the amusement park landscape more than four decades ago.

Read more from The LA Times.

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Gosh, was it eight? Wow, that time sure flew by, didn't it?

I wonder if there isn't a Gonchback available so we can review what we thought about all that....

Edit: Now that I'm thinking about it, didn't that discussion earn the title of "Worlds Longest Thread" or something? If that's the case, then never mind. I just can't...

Last edited by RCMAC,

Man time flies by. Seen this on Facebook today. I am happy that they stuck with it. I love the ride.

I love it, too. I rode Euclid Beach's Flying Turns many times when I was a kid, and I've always obsessed over it. I've never walked by a modern steel version that I didn't get on. I find the sensation of rolling without a track and riding the sides of the trough to be quite pleasant and even thrilling at times. As Mr. McDonald mentioned, it's fun to look ahead to what's coming next. It always looks a little impossible or something.

Anyway, Knoebel's ride turned out to be about as faithful a reproduction of a real wooden Turns as possible in this day and age. I finally got on it two seasons ago and was blessed with multiple rides on a fairly slow day. I think the double lift thing is a little weird and interruptive, but otherwise it gets high marks from me. Good for them, and I'm sorry if I was a doubter.

It will probably always remain unique and in a class by itself. Unless a new cracker-jack designer or technology comes along, I doubt that anyone else will attempt another one any time soon.

sirloindude's avatar

I wonder how they managed with the old ones. Were there different construction techniques back then? I can't imagine they spent eight years on those old ones.

13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones

slithernoggin's avatar

There were different insurance techniques back then. :-)

If I recall correctly, Knoebel's also ran into an issue with the wood. How the wood they used was chemically treated back in the day, and how that wood is treated these days is different, and turned out to make the wood unsuitable for use. They may have to remove and replace most of the wood.

Ah, found it in one of the articles I wrote about No Coaster for ACE News: "...having installed 38,000 board feet of cypress, the Knoebel's team learned that the cypress used on such rides in the 1930s and the cypress available in 2011 were very different. So they had to take out 38,000 board feet of cypress and replace it with 38,000 board feet of CCA treated yellow pine."

Last edited by slithernoggin,

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Fun's avatar

This might be an unpopular opinion but I think the ride is a dud and wasn't worth the hassle. With the low capacity and unique maintenance considerations of the ride, I wonder how profitable this ride really is.

Sometimes we do things just because we want to. And we can. I think if $ was the leading factor there, they would've cut their losses early on.

I understand why you'd think the ride is a dud. While I wouldn't go that far, I'd call it a unique family ride rather than a high-thrill ride. Flying Turns were always short, sweet rides. Even the largest one at Euclid Beach was over in less than 30 seconds. Well, after about a three minute lift to the top of the park's tallest structure.

The Knoebel's project was led by John Fetterman, the fellow who also brought us Twister. I think it's interesting that both projects had their share of trouble and delays, and common sense might tell us that if things had been done in a simpler way some of the difficulty might have been avoided. While both are fine rides in their own right, the distance from the original rides that he was trying to "re-create" turned out to be pretty far. I'm not trying to say anything in regard to Mr. Fetterman's ability as a designer, but (and in an attempt to maybe answer our sirloindude's question above,) Mr Bartlett and Mr Miller turned out rides in the off season, or maybe season and a half. They weren't encumbered by rules and regulations but instead were armed with slide rules, inventiveness, great imaginations, and a keen, intuitive sense of how things worked. And I'll be darned, those thrill machines of the day seemed to work great every time.
If for no other reason, I think it's why that era earns the title of Golden Age. Wouldn't it be fun to go back to that time for a day?

rollergator's avatar

While it may not be highly profitable, I consider Turns a rousing success...Lakemont has the oldest operating side-friction, Knoebels has the *only* operating Flying Turns.

Also, the split-lift is a nice nod to Twister (as well as essential for allowing the ride to fit into its confined space).

Some of the stories involving the need for a suitable *modern* train for Turns....amazing it ever opened at all.

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

Tommytheduck's avatar

Flying Turns, while not the high speed thrill coaster of the modern era, (eh? eh?...) definitely has it's place in the coaster world. Sure, we don't need a clone at every park, but it's wonderful that someone took the time and effort to re-create this one of a kind experience. Same could be said (and was above) about Leap The Dips.

One of my top "Must rides" is Montana Suiza in Spain. Certainly not for the thrill factor, but for the novelty. And the view doesn't hurt either. I only recently discovered the "Brakeman" rollercoaster and now am on a mission to ride one.

Here's a POV video of M.S.

Last edited by Tommytheduck,

A ceement rolly coaster! Whaaaaa?
Looks awesome. I'd totally go out of my way to check that out.

Tommytheduck's avatar

This is, I'm led to believe,the worlds first Steel rollercoaster. (Steel rails, not tubular steel, sorry Matterhorn.)

janfrederick's avatar

LA Thompson's coaster did not have steel rails? Or are you saying oldest surviving?

"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza

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