2011 doesn’t seem to be the magic number for the highly anticipated Flying Turns coaster at Knoebels Grove in Elysburg, PA. The coaster failed to safely complete some of its test runs, according to The Daily Item, further delaying the coaster’s opening.
The ride, based on the wooden bobsled coasters of the 30's, went under construction as another Knoebels in-house project in 2006 to replace the Whirlwind roller coaster, with a planned opening date in 2008. Five years later, and Knoebels may have to go back to the drawing board. The new trains, which Dick Knoebel, the co-owner of the amusement park, ordered for 2010, went off the rails and have even jack-knifed during testing, according to The Daily Item. Knoebel claims that the reason the ride is being delayed so long is because the trains are required to be much heavier than the lightweight trains and cars used in the 1930‘s, when park safety regulations were virtually non-existent. The trains are being redesigned by a company in Texas and will be back to Knoebels in approximately two weeks to test again, according to The Daily Item. These will be the fourth trains to be tested onFlying Turns. After the first trains were deemed too fast for rider comfort, the entire track was redesigned and rebuilt to accommodate new trains. Replacement cars were shipped in 2010 and still fail to safely complete the circuit, even with the newly redesigned track. In his interview with The Daily Item, Dick Knoebel said that “[The trains] worked beautifully 5 times out of 6,“ but went on to say “It has to be right each time.”
Flying Turns isn’t the only coaster being delayed at Knoebels. Black Diamond, an in-the-dark steel roller coaster, is being revamped and put together at Knoebels for the 2011 season. It too is experiencing delays that could push its opening until mid-to-late summer, according to The Daily Item.
The ride was originally “Golden Nugget Mine” at Dinosaur Beach in Wildwood, New Jersey from 1960 to 2009. The last time the ride operated there was in 1999, and was standing but not operating for 10 years after asbestos was discovered in the building in which it was contained.
Knoebel bought the ride after it was removed in 2009, and a new building with an entirely new theme is being constructed to house the unique, nostalgic coaster.
While some express hope that both of these coasters will be up and running by the end of the 2011 park season, others are pessimistic. Flying Turns has recently been removed from theKnoebels website and ride listings, but construction still continues. Dick Knoebel shared that he isn’t going to give up, calling himself “stubborn” and “determined” in his interview with The Daily Item.
Only time will tell if either of these unique pair of one-of-a-kind coasters reach their much anticipated potentials. But if anyone can do it, Knoebel’s would be a good bet, successfully completing their first in-house project, Twister, in 1999 and operating a commendable family park in a relatively quiet and rural location, very unusual for a thriving amusement park. When and if both rides do open, it will nicely compliment a park with a rich history based on honest, old-fashioned principals.