Ride of Steel
Specific Type: Steel, Mega-Coaster
The world's greatest superhero landed at Darien Lake in Darien Center, New York on May 15th, 1999 as the Darien Lake park opened for the first time as a member of the Six Flags chain. Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, Superman: Ride of Steel's mile-long circuit of shiny red track rises up to dwarf all else at Darien Lake, to over 200 feet in the air, before diving, banking and leaping to complete a total of five hops, two helixes and nearly three minutes of flight with the Man of Steel. Superman's 20-story heights also make the hyper-coaster Six Flags, creating company Intamin AG as well as the state of New York's first continuous-tracked ride to exceed 200 feet in height. And immediately following the initial climb, the train plummets down a parabolic 70-degree drop made even steeper for passengers courtesy of a tiered seating arrangement.
When Six Flags sold Darien Lake to PARC Management, all of the Six Flags, DC Comics, and Warner Bros. were rethemed, which meant that the Superman persona for Superman Ride of Steel had to go. The ride was renamed to Ride of Steel, and the Superman logo on the front of both trains were removed.
In its opening season, the ride was running well, until a near-fatal accident occurred when a passenger flew out of the train, almost like Superman. After the accident, Darien Lake enforced more heavy restrictions, including changing the 48” height restriction to 54”. The restraints were also changed to include a seatbelt with the lap bar.
The ride was running smoothly for the next decade, until July 8th, 2011. Sgt. James Hackemer, who lost both of his legs while on duty, came back to want to get the most out of life. So he decided to ride Ride of Steel. When the ride crested its second hill, Sgt. Hackemer flew out of train and died on impact to the ground. The ride was closed for a month, and reopened when state investigators found that it was operator error as the cause of the accident. This was the final conclusion, because Darien Lake had a rule that because of the restraint system of Ride of Steel, someone without legs should not have been able to ride. Sgt. Hackemer and the operators of Ride of Steel ignored that rule, which put the ex-soldiers life at risk.
With the train loaded, Ride of Steel departs with a small right-hand U-turn to the lift. Once on the chain, it's up and away with a speedy trip up and over all else on Darien Lake's property. Down to the right: the wooden support structure of Predator. Off to the right: the park entrance and lake that Ride of Steel will fly over. But the view ahead is every bit as pretty as the surroundings: the beginning of the 70-degree, 205-foot plunge appearing to lead to nowhere. And without a pause, the track steepens until the 70-degree angles are accomplished, then it's time to level back out, red trackwork speeding beneath at 70 miles an hour. Train banking to the left, riders curve around 90 degrees and then get to the leaping of tall buildings with a leap skyward over 16-stories and over the crest of the first Camelback Hump. The course next plunges back down and leads through the ride's Double Helix, curving downwards 540 degrees and exiting in the opposite direction as the entry. Speeding over the lake in a straightaway, passengers next hit the second Camelback, this time with enough force to catapult the train's contents into airtime heaven. Proceeding is a second helix rotating to the right, turning around upwards and ending with a curving dip. Next it's over the Non-Inverting Corkscrew - an airtime hill curving up and curving back down in an S-like pattern. Finally, two final rabbit hops finish off the ride into the final brake run.
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