Specific Type: Steel, Inverted, Looping
Immediately after Bolliger and Mabillard came out with the first inverted coaster in 1992 with Six Flags Great America's Batman: the Ride near Chicago, a theme park halfway across the country and formerly a sister park to the Midwestern Great America,Paramount's Great America, was in contact with the two Swiss designers to bring the inverted coaster to the Northern California park as the world's second inverted model. The PGA inverter would feature its own custom-designed layout, and plans soon came together for a sleek three-inversion, 2,260-foot steel coaster containing one of every inversion that Batman looped through, and a few elements of its own. The Californian Great America park had just recently come under ownership of movie giant Paramount, and it was decided that the new inverted coaster would be the first to sport its own Paramount movie theme. Top Gun was cleared for takeoff and blasted off on March 19th, 1993, just over ten months afterBatman's debut, as the second inverted coaster ever and first to take flight on the West Coast of the US. After its debut, the coaster became the park's largest draw, guest favorite, and signature attraction for years to come.
Fighter-pilot wannabes walk under the ride logo and enter the line, then make their way up to the station before strapping into one of two 28-passenger trains and getting ready for takeoff. The floor drops, and the train starts up, up, and away. A hundred and two feet over top of Paramount's Great America, the track makes a dip, the catwalk is left behind, Top Gun banks to the left, and screaming passengers soar back to the ground. Ninety-one feet and 180 degrees later, the train completes the dive to level out eleven feet above the ground only to begin pulling up sharply into the first third of the coaster's inversion trio: what other than a traditional vertical loop. Once the train has completed the 360-degree vertical knot, the speeding black track overhead curves upwards again, back up towards the sky and curving to the right in a fan curve winding and banking around 315 degrees while climbing, and then diving back down right into Top Gun's next inversion. For the zero-g roll, passengers are swept up above the entrance area and spun in a complete roll with a few negative g's thrown in before completing the inversion. The track dips with a curve to the right to set riders down a few feet above the surface of a pond, then speeds them through a quick flat spin to the right flipping the train up into the air like a pancake. The coaster banks leftwards and Top Gun glides up around a tight, high-g carousel curve and then slamming on the brakes. With one more turn to the right, riders find themselves right back where they started and the two-minute, twenty-second ride over.
Since the PGA Top Gun debut, similar inverted rides have opened at other parks in the Paramount family, including an East Coast Bolliger and Mabillard sister coaster, Top Gun: the Jet Coaster, now known as Afterburn, is located at Carowinds. In 2008, the new owner of all former Paramount-branded theme parks, Cedar Fair, abandon the movie-branded name and theme. California's Great America, as the park became known, went with the name Flight Deck for the classic inverted coaster.
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