THIS NEW ROLLER COASTER BREAKS SIX WORLD RECORDS

But no bones. Yet.

Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - How Your World Works - BY CAMERON J OHNSON

CEDAR POINT IN SAN­DUSKY, in the Amer­i­can state of Ohio, an amuse­ment park known for its ou­tra­geous roller coast­ers, cur­rently holds five world records. This May, the park un­veiled Val­ravn, a new coaster that will win six more in­di­vid­ual records. Val­ravn is the tallest, fastest and long­est dive coaster in the world and it also has the most in­ver­sions, the tallest in­ver­sion and the long­est drop for a dive coaster. In other words, save the corn dog for af­ter the ride.

BLOCK BRAKE

The other two in­ver­sions are a dive loop (a half bar­rel-roll fol­lowed by a drop) and a 270-de­gree roll (a three-quar­ter twist that rid­ers feel mostly in their ex­trem­i­ties). Rid­ers ar­rive back at the sta­tion a lit­tle over a kilo­me­tre (and two min­utes 43 sec­onds) later.

68 M 65 M 120 KM/ H

The car ap­proaches the precipice of the first drop at 68 me­tres above the ground, dan­gling the rid­ers at the crest for four sec­onds. This pause be­fore the 90-de­gree free fall is what makes Val­ravn a dive coaster, which is dif­fer­ent from the other cat­e­gories of roller coast­ers, of which there are more than 20, in­clud­ing wing coast­ers, where the rid­ers flank the track. Af­ter the lull, the car re­leases into a free fall – a 65-me­tre straight drop that brings the speed to 120 kilo­me­tres per hour. Val­ravn is bro­ken into dif­fer­ent blocks, each equipped with sen­sors, called prox­im­ity switches, that de­tect a metal com­po­nent in the ve­hi­cle. Only one train can be in any one block of the roller coaster at a time. The block brake be­fore the sec­ond drop will not per­mit a car to pro­ceed if the one in front hasn’t cleared the end of the ride. This al­lows Val­ravn to run three cars at once, mak­ing the line move al­most as fast as the ride.

Val­ravn’s record-set­ting speed is nec­es­sary to make it all the way around the tallest loop, a 51-me­tre Im­mel­mann loop, named af­ter Ger­man World War I ace Max Im­mel­mann, who in­vented a ma­noeu­vre in which a pi­lot climbs and banks to turn around. This in­ver­sion twists the rid­ers at the top in a half-bar­rel roll. Be­cause the amount of g-force you feel on a roller coaster is in­versely pro­por­tional to a loop’s ra­dius, the large ra­dius makes for a smooth ride. Says Rob Decker, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of plan­ning and de­sign for the park’s par­ent com­pany, Cedar Fair: “If we went as quickly as we could from hor­i­zon­tal to ver­ti­cal, it would be un­com­fort­able.”

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