A helix is a basic roller coaster element that is easily identifiable visually but tricky to convey in words. The basic concept is the roller coaster train will either ascend or descend while simultaneously turning in a 360 degree manner or greater (spiraling as it is sometimes called). A great analogy to aid in visualization of such a process is a descending helix is like water going down a drain. The train “spins” around while also going “down”. Another more coaster terminology related explanation would be a corkscrew shaped loop on a horizontal plane.

The most notable helixes are usually found on wooden roller coasters. American Eagle at Six Flags Great America (SFGAm) and the Beast at Paramount’s Kings Island (PKI), both have rather rough helixes. However, the helix nearing the end of the Beast is a great experience because it is rough. The helix on the Beast gives the sensation of almost flying off of the track whereas the helix on the American Eagle is due to too much speed and not enough banking (see note on American Eagle).