The UK’s only Drop ‘n’ Twist Tower has opened at Flambards in Cornwall. The 28-metre attraction is the tallest of its kind from the Italian manufacturer SBF, and is proving a big hit with park guests.
Following months of planning and anticipation, the brand new ride was delivered in March, and on time. Flambards’ team carried extensive research into various tower ride manufacturers but selected SBF for several reasons, not least the unique movements offered by the Drop ‘n’ Twist.
“We found the rotating gondola to be a very attractive features along with the high quality finish on every aspect of the ride,” says Flambards’ technical manager, Paul Morris. “It’s one of the best made rides I have seen.”
Available in a variety of sizes, starting at 8-metres, the Drop ‘n’ Twist Tower features a gondola that turns both clockwise and anticlockwise as it travels up and down the tower. Additionally, a special “observation tower” mode allows operators to offer a slower, panoramic ride. Multiple other ride patterns are included, such as full freefall, half freefall, bounce and jump.
Flambards’ version of the ride seats 16 passengers at a time and drops at speeds of up to 25km/h, accelerating to 2.5G. Despite standing on the lowest point of the park, Skyraker 001 dominates the area and can be seen for miles around. The ride is topped with a rotating dome, providing an excellent advertisement for Flambards to passing motorists. Thanks to the observation tower mode, the attraction has been dubbed, “Cornwall’s answer to the London Eye.” There is however, one big difference – Skyraker is also a thrill ride.
At the launch event just before Easter, there were screams of excitement and exhilaration from the first riders. The verdict: “Awesome,” beamed Ellen, aged 12. “Better than Euro Disney,” reported Giselle, 9, and “Really scary, but in a good way,” said Jess.
But before Skyraker could take its first passengers, a number of preparations were made. Because of the tower’s height a team of skilled civil engineers were required to design a 100 square metre base using 150 tonnes (135,000kg) of steel reinforced concrete anchored deep into the granite bedrock with 12 steel piles almost 10-metres long each.
A team of Flambards engineers then travelled to SBF’s premises in Montagnana, northern Italy, to thoroughly test the ride before its 1,900km (1,185 miles) journey to south west England. Once on site, the tower’s three main sections were unpacked and bolted together under the watchful eye of SBF’s Vanni Marini. The two tallest cranes in Cornwall worked in tandem to hoist the 22-ton (20,000kg) tower onto its base. Once the legs were attached and securely fixed to the ground, the ride began to take shape.
The new attraction is a huge investment for Flambards, as the park’s managing director James Hale highlights: “Skyraker is fantastic and we’re confident it will be a major attraction for the whole of the region, particularly as it is the only one of its kind in the UK. There are other drop towers but they don’t twist at the same time as rising and dropping, and with the flexibility of its varied programmes it has settings to satisfy everyone from the bravest adrenaline junky to those just wanting to enjoy unparalleled views of the area.”
Fun at Flambards
Located outside the town of Helston, Flambards was founded as the Cornwall Aircraft Park by Lieutenant Commander Douglas Kingsford Hale MBE and his wife Audrey in 1976. Today the park is run by their son James Hale, managing director, and entertains around 240,000 annual guests.
Key attractions include The Hornet coaster by Zierer, Canyon River (Zamperla log flume), Thunder Bolt (Northern Amusements Super Star), Extreme Force (KT Enterprises Skymaster), Carousel (Chance), Balloon Race (Zamperla), Rockin’ Tug (Zamperla), and now Skyraker 001 by SBF. The park also includes the Victorian Village, Britain in the Blitz and Memory Lane Experience exhibitions, together with a hands-on science discovery area.
The 2010 season continues until October 30.