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AlpenFlug -- THE very first modern suspended coaster

Postby SeaWhippet » Tue Oct 21, 2008 4:35 pm

Though many think the infamous Bat at Kings Island was the first modern suspended coaster, that wonderfully violent machine was preceded by the equally bizarre and short-lived Alpen-Flug.

Designed by German aircraft manufacturer Messerschmidt with calculations supplied by Werner Stengel, Alpen-Flug premiered at the 1975 Oktoberfest in Munich.

Utilizing five 6-car trains, Alpen-Flug was an incredibly thrilling ride experience, performing far better than anyone expected. But at the end of the fair, it was found that the ride suffered from severe structural damage, especially in the area around the turns. This design flaw was a direct result of the deliberate under-banking of the track on the turns – a cost-saving measure chosen by Messerschmidt and vehemently condemned by Werner Stengel. So upset by Messerschmidt’s decision to ignore his very specific advice to bank the track per his calculations, Stengel left the project.

During my interview with Stengel, when he supplied these images from his personal collection, he described the ride as very, very thrilling and intense … particularly in the lateral swinging in the transitions. Still, he knew the ride couldn’t survive since Messerschmidt ignored his instructions on track banking.

Alpen-Flug, along with a duplicate that was already under construction, is another strange ride lost to history. I wish someone would come forward with film of this intriguing ride in operation. It must exist somewhere … Until then, enjoy these beautiful images of one of the oddest roller coasters ever created.
alpenflug1.jpg
alp2.jpg
From the construction crane, unload platform is on the left ... main station is dead ahead.
alp3.jpg
alp4.jpg
Train # 2 awaiting more sandbags ... err ... passengers.
alp5.jpg
alp6.jpg
Test train (sans roofs) heads toward lift. Note fins beneath cars that will be propelled by friction tires (bottom left) onto lift.
alp7.jpg
Train enters unload platform.
alp8.jpg
Train #2 ascends lift. Note lower fin guide rain has been added.
alp9.jpg
Train #2 with headlights blazing plows into an unbanked turn. Hang on!!!!!!!!
alp10.jpg
Train #2 showing wheel assemblies and connectors. How minimalist is this? Did IKEA build these trains?
alp12.jpg
Train #2 struts its stuff!

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Postby coasterdude5 » Tue Oct 21, 2008 5:28 pm

Never heard of this before, very different-looking. Thanks for posting these.
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Postby Olsor » Tue Oct 21, 2008 9:04 pm

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.

Thanks for sharing, Scott!

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Postby kamikazewatermelon » Tue Oct 21, 2008 9:12 pm

I'd never heard of this either. Who built this, Schwarzkopf?

Edit: oops, forgot to read that little blurb above the pics. :oops:

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Postby ebl » Tue Oct 21, 2008 9:28 pm

I've known of this for a long, long time. And of course, most die-hard fans know that Schwarzkopf was the original manufacturer of Big Bad Wolf at BGE before Arrow took over the project. I wonder if it would have ended up something like this had it been finished by Schwarzkopf?

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Postby DBru » Tue Oct 21, 2008 9:31 pm

Wow, this is one of the most interesting coasters you've posted so far! I loved the suspended coaster idea... I wish it would become popular again...

Also what I found to be intriguing about this coaster is the lack of (much) restraint. Flying along the course, swinging up at high angles would scare me to death in those trains!

Very cool, nonetheless.

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Postby montezooma » Tue Oct 21, 2008 10:09 pm

Scott-

Just Plain Awesome! Way to start out the second season. This is such an interesting post. I had no knowledge of this ride and I am now completely fascinated with it.

The track is very similar to the track used on Mindbender and Shockwave, two of the most beautiful Schwarzkopf coasters, yet this is not a Shwarzkopf ride. It also bares much resemblance to Intamin track. Those trains look pretty pathetic almost like something the Eyerly Aircraft Companywould make.

I love these kind of posts where you are able to show rare pictures and enhance those pictures with the stories you get from those involved with the ride.

Can't wait for more.

PS- I see the name has been changed from "amusement" to "coaster"
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Postby ebl » Tue Oct 21, 2008 10:31 pm

I have to guess the roof on each car was to discourage standing up and coming in contact with the track. The cars look funny, but I sure would have liked to have have even one chance to ride it.

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Postby restoca » Wed Oct 22, 2008 12:17 am

What a rarity! Kind of like the unicorn of modern coasters. If I recall correctly, there was a photo or two of this ride in a travelling exhibit (Smithsonian?) about rollercoasters in the late 70s. I may be thinking of another odd suspended one I've seen from much earlier (20s or 30s?) that was sort of like a really large Toboggan with a standard lift. After the lift it was just a long continuous spiral.

Either way, WOW! I never considered that eliminating the banking could be such a big money saver.

Thanks for sharing the photos and facts!

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Postby ECZenith » Wed Oct 22, 2008 1:22 am

^ It was the same mistake Disney made with Rocket Rods. A little banking would have allowed for a much better and most importantly, still existing ride.
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