Like Dave said, There's no way that could have happend without the ops knowledge.
The RPM on that thing only varies slightly between being forceful enough to climb the walls, to being able to stand up. Slowing it or stopping it before something like that happened was entirely possible in this case and wasn't done because it was FUNNY.
The furthest I've ever gone in my Gravtron exploits was to sit up while the ride is going. It doesn't sound that difficult until you get in one and try it. Be careful when going back to the laying position though because you could smack the back of your head pretty hard.
I did the "lay sideways" thing at the Castle Park Gravitron when it was just me and my brothers on it. That never seemed dangerous and I assumed it was OK because the op allowed it. Of course, the op seemed to encourage this guy and we saw how that ended up.
I' be pretty pissed off if I was the guy next to him. *** Edited 2/3/2006 7:07:26 PM UTC by The Lorax***
I remember being on a gravitron as a kid, turning myself upside down (I actually think people do that quite regularly in Gravitrons, almost like it's part of the ride: To demonstrate to yourself that now the wall seems like the ground). Standing up is acutally quite tempting in Gravitrons, may it be stupid or not.
I remember though that the ride op was making it go so fast that I was really afraid my brain would come out to my ears, or my eyeballs would come out of their sockets etc - everything that was wobbly in my face was sticking to the wall already.
I was in another one many years later and it wasn't so bad (at least, it didn't hurt as much)
How much freedom do ride ops have when they control the thing?
Gravitron has two operating modes: "running" or "not running". Usually the operator can choose between those two states. When running, top speed is about 24 RPM, making the Gravitron one of the fastest, if not the fastest, circular rides on the midway*.
Actually sometimes the operator has even less control over the ride. There are documented cases of the motor control contactor welding itself closed during the ride cycle, at which point the operator can't stop the ride. :)
(I think most have had a shunt-trip device added so that the operator has an additional way to shut the ride down now)
--Dave Althoff, Jr.
* The ARM Quasar runs at 36 RPM, but the center on that one counter-rotates at 18 RPM, so it *really* only goes 18 RPM...