Twenty water-filled test dummies got the ride of their lives over the weekend as they experienced the first flight of the nation's only launched wing roller coaster, Thunderbird, at Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, Santa Claus, Indiana. A sneak peek of the launch can be found here.
The first B&M launched wing coaster roared to life on Saturday afternoon, March 7. The inaugural train was launched 14 stories into the cloudless sky at 2:03 p.m., completing a full ride circuit on its first try.
"We've been joking that on this day when we usually 'spring forward' to Daylight Savings Time, we decided to launch forward," says Holiday World's president, Matt Eckert. "This is a huge milestone for us – Thunderbird is the greatest investment we've made since we opened in 1946."
Thunderbird, Holiday World's first major steel roller coaster, features a zero-to-60 miles-per-hour launch in 3.5 seconds, followed by multiple inversions - including a 14-story Immelmann loop, Zero-g roll, barrel roll, and a loop soaring 125 feet in the air.
Continuing Holiday World's tradition of sending roller coasters through its thickly wooded and hilly terrain, Thunderbird at first soars and loops high in the air and then hugs the ground, with rapid-fire "near misses" such as a fly-through barn, stone chimneys, other rides, trees, and even the ground.
Both Holiday World and Thunderbird open to the public on April 25, with a special, season-passholder-only preview of Thunderbird on April 24.