JACKSON, N.J. — For some, the term “airtime” conjures up the number of minutes you spend on your cell phone each month. But for a select group of thrill seekers, airtime is that exquisite zero-G sensation when riders experience the sensation of weightlessness while traveling on trains over wooden or steel tracks at high speeds. These are the members of American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE), who will be visiting Six Flags Great Adventure for the first day of their annual Preservation Conference on August 4. The conference will attract over 300 members from 25 North American states and provinces.
Six Flags Great Adventure has become a very popular place for coaster enthusiasts according to Mark Cole, ACE’s president. That shouldn’t surprise anyone, considering how many world-class roller coasters the park has installed in the past decade. From the venerable Rolling Thunder wooden racing coaster built in 1979 to the park’s two newest creations—the record-breaking 456-foot tall Kingda Ka and El Toro, a cutting-edge wooden coaster that opened just last year. “Six Flags Great Adventure’s wide-ranging collection of coasters should attract a fair number of members to this conference, which brings attention to roller coaster preservation, one of our organization’s foremost goals,” said Mr. Cole.
A portion of the proceeds from the event benefits ACE’s Preservation Fund, through which ACE has supported a number of causes; for example, ACE was the largest contributor to the restoration of Leap-the-Dips, the world’s oldest roller coaster, which reopened in its original Pennsylvania location in 1999 after sitting dormant for 13 years.
So, just who are these ACE people? ACE members range in age from 2 to over 80. Attorneys, teachers, doctors, clergymen, engineers, architects, accountants, students, and retirees are a sampling of occupations that comprise the ACE profile. Nearly half of the 8,000 members have ridden at least 100 different coasters (more than 10 percent have ridden at least 300 different coasters!).
Founded in 1978, ACE is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to the preservation, promotion, appreciation, and safe enjoyment of roller coasters. With more than 8,000 members in all 50 states and in 12 different countries, ACE is the largest amusement park enthusiast club in the world. ACE membership includes bimonthly newsletters, quarterly magazines, and the opportunity to attend events at parks each year.
For the second day of the conference, the thrill seekers will visit Coney Island’s Astroland in Brooklyn to enjoy the world famous Cyclone roller coaster.
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