Which waterpark will be the first to tout owning the world’s first straight-dropping, true vertical looping waterslide?
Adrian Duke isn’t telling. But the CEO of Skyturtle Technologies, the Vancouver, B.C.-based firm that developed SkyCalibre, a white-knuckle water ride that sends thrillseekers through a 30-foot-tall loop, said a deal is being finalized and that he expects a U.S. park will make the announcement ahead of the 2015 season.
Until then, let’s take a closer look at SkyCalibre’s specs, shall we?
Standing 90 feet tall, SkyCalibre dares riders to plummet down a 45-foot freefall and through a loop while encapsulated within a bullet-shaped pod that spirals through the chute at a rip-roaring 50 miles per hour. One thousand gallons per minute is augmented by a series of internal sprayers.
“The friction coefficient of the foam runners is always consistent,” Duke said of Skyturtle’s propriety raft technology, “and you make the loop 100 percent of the time, so far in our testing at least.”
SkyCalibre had the industry buzzing when developers unveiled the concept in October at the World Waterpark Association Show in Las Vegas. At the time, Skyturtle hadn’t yet done any human testing, but planned to remedy that before the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo in November.
It was only fair that the inventor of the slide volunteer as guinea pig. The trial run took place on a full-scale prototype in Missouri, where SkyCalibre manufacturer Avalanche Waterslides is located. (The two companies partnered in 2013.)
“I won’t lie. I was a little nervous,” said Lance Fisher, president of the three-year-old firm.
The sensation of the freefall “felt like I was weightless. It gave me that kind of stomach-rising-up feeling … that you typically only feel on a rollercoaster.”
While SkyCalibre claims to be a record breaker, a similar attraction only broke bones — allegedly. Industry observers may recall the ill-advised Cannonball Loop. The body slide was in operation for only one month in the summer of 1985. It didn’t have enough centrifugal force to see riders completely through the loop, sending them crashing into the bottom of the curve. The attraction in New Jersey’s notorious Action Park, which shuttered in 1996 after six people lost their lives on dangerous rides, is said to have caused numerous injuries.
However, Duke assures SkyCalibre “is 100 percent safe.”
That’s due to the slide’s body capsule, he said, which is made of an aluminum frame with a mesh safety screen, “so you’re not able to reach out and slow yourself down on the slide.”