Hypersonic XLC™, The Xtreme Launch Coaster- Designed to thrill!
Inspiration can strike a person at any moment. For Stan Checketts, his love of high-speed snowmobiling in the mountains surrounding his Utah home inspired him to create what thrill ride industry experts have dubbed “THE Thrill Ride of The New Millennium - HyperSonic XLC™.”
Founded in 1994, Stan Checkett’s S&S Power is known worldwide for manufacturing high-thrill, vertical amusement rides. Built around an innovative compressed air technology, S&S has installed 89 Space Shot and Turbo Drop rides in 23 countries worldwide to date.
The innovative new coaster ride idea came to Stan one day while traversing a near-vertical hill on one of his souped-up, custom-designed snowmobiles. He began wondering if it would be possible to take one of his vertical tower rides, lay the structure on it’s side and launch a roller coaster car using the same technology. Checketts’ creative ingenuity set the roller coaster world on its ear when S&S Power later announced that they had designed the world’s first air-launched roller coaster.
The clean, efficient power of compressed air not only was capable of launching a roller coaster - it was capable of launching one FAST! 0-80 miles-per-hour in a staggering 1.8 seconds to be exact. That type of acceleration was unheard of in the coaster world and the theme park industry was quick to take notice. But the innovations didn’t stop with the method of propulsion. The new design also included special shock absorbers and pneumatic (air-filled) tires that were designed to provide an unbelievably smooth ride.
FROM PROTOTYPE TO PARAMOUNT
Under the watchful eye of Stan Checketts, ride manufacturers at S&S Power assembled a prototype model of the world’s first compressed air-launched roller coaster. They dubbed the prototype “Thrust Air 2000” and debuted the ride at their plant in Logan, Utah at the end of 1999. Park officials from nearly every regional theme park in North America converged on Logan along with curious industry experts and coaster enthusiasts.
Those who rode the prototype all agreed that this new design was unlike any coaster they had ever experienced.
Clearly Checketts was on to something and S&S Power was contacted by numerous theme parks wanting to be the first to install the world’s first compressed air-launched coaster. When the dust settled, it was announced that Paramount's Kings Dominion would be the first to present the exciting new coaster to the public.
Paramount's Kings Dominion Executive Vice President and General Manager Richard Zimmerman was instrumental in making the deal. “Paramount's Kings Dominion has a rich tradition of presenting one-of-a-kind thrill rides at our park,” said Zimmerman. Our guests have come to expect us to push the envelope and build the latest and greatest. Our relationship with S&S Power was the natural next-step in keeping with that tradition.”
The list of coaster firsts at Paramount’s Kings Dominion includes: Shockwave, the first stand-up roller coaster on the east coast; Anaconda, the first coaster in the world to feature an underwater tunnel; Flight of Fear™, the first linear induction launch coaster in the world; and Volcano, The Blast Coaster™, the first suspended linear induction coaster in the world.
Working with construction and design experts from Kings Dominion, S&S engineers made modifications to the track layout of the prototype so that the ride would fit seamlessly into the existing landscape of the park.
After the track was disassembled, each piece was individually labeled and loaded onto flatbed tractor-trailers for shipment. In the end, over 60 trucks made the 2200 mile journey from Logan, Utah to Doswell, Virginia where the work of reconstructing “Thrust Air 2000”, now dubbed “HyperSonic XLC™” would begin.
Almost three-and-a-half months later, the track structure was complete and testing of the ride would commence. Maintenance and construction crews worked hand-in-hand with designers and engineers from S&S Power every step of the way to see that the ride was reconstructed to exact specifications and tested to ensure that every safety feature and mechanical component was installed and working properly.
“We’re proud of the work our crews have done. Stan Checketts and his team at S&S Power have provided terrific leadership in seeing this project through,” said Zimmerman. “We can’t wait to share this awesome new attraction with our guests!”
Paramount's Kings Dominion is owned and operated by Paramount Parks.
Paramount Parks, a unit of Viacom Inc., is a leading developer and operator of regional theme parks and location-based entertainment attractions. The company currently manages: Paramount's Kings Island (Cincinnati, Ohio); Paramount's Kings Dominion (Richmond, Va.); Paramount's Great America (Santa Clara, Calif.); Paramount's Carowinds (Charlotte, N.C.); Paramount Canada's Wonderland (Toronto, Ontario, Canada); and Star Trek: The Experience™ at the Las Vegas Hilton (Las Vegas, Nev.).
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