Over 25 years ago when Skycoaster® was introduced to the attractions industry, it was a fresh new ride experience that had never before been seen or experienced. Combining elements of Skydiving, Bungee Jumping, and Hang Gliding in one signature thrill ride, this iconic attraction took the industry by storm and had dozens of new installations in just the first several years of its existence ranging from standalone resort sites to fully established gated amusement parks.
Beyond the ride presence and experience itself was a new business model that had never before been attempted. As an extreme thrill up-charge ride, many were skeptical that the $15-$40 per flyer price-point would not work or sustain itself (especially in gated parks where a guest pays prior to entering for use of all general admission rides and attractions).Â 25 years and 138 installations later, that skepticism is but a faint memory as these signature rides continue to thrill millions of guests every year.
Another new aspect that Skycoaster® introduced was its unique and comprehensive operator training programs which contribute greatly to the ride’s impeccable safety record. In order to be certified in any position on the flight crew, one must complete eight (8) hours of training in that position. Once a person has completed their training hours in each of the four positions on the crew, they are eligible to be tested for Site Controller Certification. A Site Controller must pass a practical exam on the Flightline with a Skycoaster® Representative observing and then also pass a fifty (50) question written exam with material coming straight out the ride’s incredibly comprehensive manual. The phrase “if it were easy everyone would be doing it” may have been created for this certification as those who pass are typically among the best of that park’s respective operations team. Besides the knowledge gained and requirement that a Site Controller must be present at a Skycoaster® for any operations to take place is the added responsibility that Site Controllers are normally placed in charge of training future Site Controller Candidates. It is very much a subculture within the already amazing subculture of working seasonally (or full time) at an amusement park.
Matt Clarke of Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan, ON, stated, “Site Controller Certification is something that our team looks forward to each season. It provides a goal and a challenge to our new and returning associates who are working towards their certification while strengthening and reassessing the knowledge of our existing Site Controllers. When I first became a Site Controller as a seasonal associate back in 2010, the training and certification built my confidence and understanding of all of the safety practices at the Skycoaster.” Roger Brookes of Kings Dominion in Doswell, VA added, “Xtreme SkyFlyer at Kings Dominion was one of the most fun and detailed trainings I experienced. The level of detail and quality of training that must be attained truly does provide a great experience and an ability to feel very comfortable about performing the job safely. It was one of the more rewarding experiences for me personally in my 17 years in the Amusement Park industry!”
So the next time you fly the friendly skies on a Skycoaster®, take note of the amazing Flight Crews that love operating the attraction so much. They are very much the front line and pulse of the Skycoaster® Flight Experience.
-Mark Rosenzweig, Managing Director- Skycoaster & Financial Partnerships