American Eagle (roller coaster)

American Eagle (roller coaster)

Overview
American Eagle is a two track racing
Racing roller coaster
A racing roller coaster, sometimes referred to as a dual track coaster, consists of one whole track or two separate coasters that travels along parallel or mirrored tracks to simulate a race between the trains. The coaster trains travel along tracks just a few feet apart of one another...

 wooden roller coaster
Wooden roller coaster
A wooden roller coaster is most often classified as a roller coaster with laminated steel running rails overlaid upon a wooden track. Occasionally, the structure may be made out of a steel lattice or truss, but the ride remains classified as a wooden roller coaster due to the track design...

 located at Six Flags Great America
Six Flags Great America
Six Flags Great America is a Six Flags theme park in the Chicago metropolitan area, located in Gurnee, Illinois. It first opened in 1976 as Marriott's Great America. Six Flags purchased the park from the Marriott Corporation in 1984, making it the seventh park in the chain...

 in Gurnee, Illinois
Gurnee, Illinois
Gurnee is a village in Lake County, Illinois, United States. The population was 28,834 at the 2000 census, and estimated to be 30,772 in 2005. The village borders the city of Waukegan and is considered a part of the Chicago metropolitan area. Gurnee is perhaps best known for being the location of...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. It was manufactured by Intamin of Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 (their first wooden roller coaster ) and built in 1981 by the contracting firm Figley-Wright. While this record has since been relinquished, American Eagle was the tallest (drop height) and fastest wooden roller coaster ever at the time of its completion, and is still one of the premier racing wooden roller coasters in the United States.
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Encyclopedia
American Eagle is a two track racing
Racing roller coaster
A racing roller coaster, sometimes referred to as a dual track coaster, consists of one whole track or two separate coasters that travels along parallel or mirrored tracks to simulate a race between the trains. The coaster trains travel along tracks just a few feet apart of one another...

 wooden roller coaster
Wooden roller coaster
A wooden roller coaster is most often classified as a roller coaster with laminated steel running rails overlaid upon a wooden track. Occasionally, the structure may be made out of a steel lattice or truss, but the ride remains classified as a wooden roller coaster due to the track design...

 located at Six Flags Great America
Six Flags Great America
Six Flags Great America is a Six Flags theme park in the Chicago metropolitan area, located in Gurnee, Illinois. It first opened in 1976 as Marriott's Great America. Six Flags purchased the park from the Marriott Corporation in 1984, making it the seventh park in the chain...

 in Gurnee, Illinois
Gurnee, Illinois
Gurnee is a village in Lake County, Illinois, United States. The population was 28,834 at the 2000 census, and estimated to be 30,772 in 2005. The village borders the city of Waukegan and is considered a part of the Chicago metropolitan area. Gurnee is perhaps best known for being the location of...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. It was manufactured by Intamin of Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 (their first wooden roller coaster ) and built in 1981 by the contracting firm Figley-Wright. While this record has since been relinquished, American Eagle was the tallest (drop height) and fastest wooden roller coaster ever at the time of its completion, and is still one of the premier racing wooden roller coasters in the United States. In 2006, American Eagle celebrated its Silver Anniversary.

Overview


Soaring high above the County Fair section of the park, this massive dual-track wooden racing coaster spans almost the entire southern edge of the park. The out-and-back
Out and Back roller coaster
Out and back refers to the layout of a roller coaster. An out and back coaster is one that climbs a lift hill, races out to the far end of the track, performs a 180 degree turn and then races its way back to the station....

 design features a very recognizable 560-degree helix at the turnaround point and a first drop that dips 20 feet (6.1 m) below ground level. An original design feature was a set of holding brakes that would perch trains at the top of the lift hill
Lift hill
A lift hill, or chain hill, is often the initial upward-sloping section of track on a typical roller coaster that initially transports the roller coaster train to an elevated point or peak in the roller coaster ride...

 for a brief moment, giving riders a bird's-eye view before releasing them to soar down the 147 feet (44.8 m)-tall (45 m) first drop at a 55-degree angle. Use of the holding brakes was short-lived and the brakes themselves were eventually removed so that the trains just go right down the drop. The ride was also originally designed to run with a total of six trains
Train (roller coaster)
A roller coaster train or car describes the vehicle which transports passengers around a roller coaster's circuit. More specifically, a roller coaster train is made up of two or more "cars" which are connected by some sort of specialized joint. It is called a "train" because the cars follow one...

; however, that number has since been reduced to four (two per track). American Eagle uses three-bench, five-car trains built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company
Philadelphia Toboggan Company
The Philadelphia Toboggan Company is one of the oldest existing roller coaster manufacturing companies in the world.Mack Rides of Germany dates back to 1781, but it did not start building coasters until 1921 Based in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, it was established in 1904 by Henry B...

. The trains were originally designed with single-position lap bars but are now equipped with individual lap bars and seatbelts, making the trains on both American Eagle and Viper
Viper (Six Flags Great America)
Viper is a wooden roller coaster located at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois, which opened in 1995. Viper features a layout that is a mirror image of the Coney Island Cyclone and is the only roller coaster ever to be built directly by Six Flags...

 similar.

Ride experience


Guests enter the queue area to the right of the KIDZOPOLIS
KIDZOPOLIS
KIDZOPOLIS is a themed kid's area with various rides at several Six Flags amusement parks.-History:Before being named KIDZOPOLIS, these themed areas were named Wiggles World from 2007 - 2010....

 section (originally Wiggles World (see The Wiggles
The Wiggles
The Wiggles are a children's group formed in Sydney, Australia in 1991. Their original members were Anthony Field, Phillip Wilcher, Murray Cook, Greg Page, and Jeff Fatt. Wilcher left the group after their first album...

)). Prior to KIDZOPOLIS being built, guests entered the queue through the large "Eagle Tent," which had been used for a circus between 1976 and 1980 and now occupied by KIDZOPOLIS. Approaching the station, the queue line splits, allowing guests to choose between riding the “Red Side” and the “Blue Side.” Both sides offer similar ride experiences, although in 1991, 1996, 2002-2005, and 2011 (from August 5 until September 17) the Blue Side ran its trains facing backward. Guests then enter the ride platform from their track's side of the station.


Upon boarding the train, riders fasten their seat belts and lower their individual lap bar into place. Riders may choose between either going forward in their trains or riding the ride backwards in the train parallel the other. Both red and blue trains are dispatched simultaneously and make a 200-degree turn opposite each other and proceed toward the lift hill. The trains meet up again behind the station where they turn back 20 degrees and begin their ascent side by side. At the top of the lift hill, the trains slowly make their way toward the edge before careening down the first drop, reaching speeds of over 66 mph (106 km/h). Riders race over two small, yet powerful air-time
Air-time
Air time is the feeling of weightlessness or negative gravity force experienced on a roller coaster or other amusement rides. On roller coasters this feeling is usually achieved by the train going over a hill. Hypercoasters such as Magnum XL-200 at Cedar Point and Bizarro at Six Flags New England...

-filled hills before traveling upward and leveling out into a set of trim brakes at the far end of the out-and-back layout. Here, trains are slowed and riders enter a massive 560-degree helix where they circle downward over a small marsh, gradually picking up speed along the way. The helix circles to the left, allowing the red train to pull away, being on the inside of the track. Riders fly out of the helix before the tracks finally separate. The blue train drops low to the earth in an attempt to gain back some of the ground it lost in the helix, while the red train rises up and passes over the blue. Both trains turn right 20 degrees until they are running parallel with each other but separated by the outbound track. The red train drops down after passing over the blue and flies over two more airtime hills while the blue train only leaps over one hill after turning its way through the wooden supports. Both trains then rise into the massive wooden structure of the lift hill and are slowed by a final set of trim brakes. Each train then dives opposite each other into a final 360-degree helix, often accompanied by much squealing from the wheels skidding on the metal rails as they negotiate the turn. The blue train circles at a significantly smaller radius in a final attempt at making up the ground it lost in the big helix. The two trains then emerge and rise into the brake run
Brake run
A brake run on a roller coaster is any section of track meant to slow or stop a roller coaster train. Brake runs may be located anywhere along the circuit of a coaster and may be designed to bring the train to a complete halt or to simply adjust the train's speed...

 to determine the winner.

Race variables


Some races are close, but in most cases one side finishes far ahead of the other (typically the Red train). Several variables factor into this occurrence. One is that the two sides are not linked with one another and ride operators on each side must try and time their dispatches together. Another big factor is weight and weight distribution. A train fully loaded with riders will gain more momentum
Momentum
In classical mechanics, linear momentum or translational momentum is the product of the mass and velocity of an object...

 and travel faster than a train carrying no passengers at all. Also, trains with weight positioned more towards the front cars will allow the train to disengage from the lift sooner as the center of gravity
Center of mass
In physics, the center of mass or barycenter of a system is the average location of all of its mass. In the case of a rigid body, the position of the center of mass is fixed in relation to the body...

 passes over the apex of the hill. A final major factor is the brake pressure of the many trim brakes throughout the ride. Often, brakes will be applied stronger to one side of the track than the other, leading many riders to believe their race is being fixed
Match fixing
In organised sports, match fixing, game fixing, race fixing, or sports fixing occurs as a match is played to a completely or partially pre-determined result, violating the rules of the game and often the law. Where the sporting competition in question is a race then the incident is referred to as...

. Other factors such as differences in track friction
Friction
Friction is the force resisting the relative motion of solid surfaces, fluid layers, and/or material elements sliding against each other. There are several types of friction:...

 and wind speed play a lesser role. All variables being equal, however, the ride is designed to end in a tie.

World records


Previous world records
  • Fastest roller coaster until 1988 (7 years)
  • Largest drop on a roller coaster until 1988 (7 years) (succeeded by Shockwave
    Shockwave (Six Flags Great America)
    Shockwave was a large roller coaster manufactured by Arrow Dynamics at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois...

    )
  • Tallest wooden roller coaster until 1985 (4 years)
  • Fastest wooden roller coaster until 2000 (19 years) (succeeded by Son of Beast at Kings Island
    Kings Island
    Kings Island is a amusement park located northeast of Cincinnati in Mason, Ohio. Opened in 1972 by Taft Broadcasting Company and now owned by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, Kings Island is the most visited seasonal amusement park in the U.S...

    )
  • Largest drop on a wooden roller coaster until 1989 (8 years) (succeeded by Hercules
    Hercules (roller coaster)
    Hercules was the name of a former wooden roller coaster at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown, Pennsylvania.At the time of construction, it was the tallest wooden roller coaster in the world, but due to its poor design the ride only had a short life, operating from 1989 to 2003...

     at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom
    Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom
    Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom is an American amusement and water park located in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The park features nine roller coasters, other adult and children's rides, and a waterpark, Wildwater Kingdom....

    )


Current world records
  • Fastest racing wooden roller coaster
  • Longest racing wooden roller coaster
  • Tallest racing wooden roller coaster
  • Largest drop on a racing wooden roller coaster

Construction



American Eagle was built with approximately 1360000 feet (414,528 m) of lumber, 129,720 bolts, and 30,600 pounds of nails. Supports are attached to approximately 2,000 concrete footings that average 1.5 foot (0.4572 m) in diameter and are 4.5 feet (1.4 m) deep. American Eagle was painted with over 9,000 gallons of white paint and took over 20,000 man hours to build. American Eagle was designed by Curtis Summers, James Figley, and Leonard Wright. Marriott originally contacted John C. Allen
John C. Allen
John C. Allen was a roller coaster designer who was responsible for the revival of wooden roller coasters which began in the 1970s. He attended Temple University. He started working for the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1934 as a coaster operator and rose to become president of the company by...

 to design the coaster, but he did not want to attempt it.

The tent that housed the American Eagle queue area from 1981 to 2006 was used as a circus
Circus
A circus is commonly a travelling company of performers that may include clowns, acrobats, trained animals, trapeze acts, musicians, hoopers, tightrope walkers, jugglers, unicyclists and other stunt-oriented artists...

 tent from 1976 to 1980. In 2007, it was converted into a children's area named KIDZOPOLIS (originally Wiggles World). The new entrance is located to the right of KIDZOPOLIS, utilizing part of the entry building for the adjacent Dare Devil Dive skycoaster. The old entrance was demolished in 2006. The original bald eagle
Bald Eagle
The Bald Eagle is a bird of prey found in North America. It is the national bird and symbol of the United States of America. This sea eagle has two known sub-species and forms a species pair with the White-tailed Eagle...

 that was on the roof of the old entrance is being used again on the current entrance.

Accidents and injuries

  • 9/9/1984: Three guests were hospitalized after two trains collided in the station. 3
  • 9/7/1997: Four guests were slightly injured after the second and third cars on the blue train separated and collided on the brake run. 3

External links