The original codename
for a roller coaster
designed by the Utah-based ride manufacturer S&S Power
. The Thrust Air uses compressed-air propulsion
, similar to that which launches F-14s from aircraft carriers
, to propel a single-car coaster train from 0 to 80 MPH in 1.8 seconds. (The rolling stock
is a wide car with four rows of seats or so, like the "sleds" on the somewhat similar Superman: The Escape
ride at Six Flags Magic Mountain
The track then heads straight up, completely perpendicular to the ground, for 1?? feet. Where Magic Mountain's Superman lets the sleds peter out and fall back to earth backwards, the Thrust Air's track dips back to horizontal, just before the car slows too much to make it over the hump. And a hump is all it is, because the track heads straight down immediately. The whole hill looks like an inverted, wide-mouthed test tube. Once the track levels off to the ground, it takes a figure-8 route back to the station. The whole ride takes about 45 seconds.
Other rides approach or top the Thrust Air's speed (Superman tops out at an even 100MPH), and plenty of them have more elaborate tracks, but absolutely nothing a civilian can ride can top it for pure acceleration. That number once again: 0 to 80 in 1.8 seconds.
The ride is now open at Kings Dominion in Virginia under the name Hypersonic XLC. Nonetheless, it seems important to node it under its original name, which will no doubt live on with coaster geeks for a long, long time. It was featured in the March 2001 issue of Wired magazine.