THE MILLER AND BARTLETT FLYING TURNS
Reprint of an article that appeared in The Arch, Euclid Beach Park Now’s quarterly newsletter: Volume 17, Issue 1, Fall 2005. Authored by: Unknown
John Norman Bartlett was born in England in 1892. During World War I he was an aviator attached to a flying squadron. After the war Bartlett came to North America where he developed his idea for a new thrill ride, the Flying Turns.
Bartlett’s early plan was for toboggan-like cars on castor wheels traveling down and through a twisting, trackless wooden chute resembling a bobsled course. Later, when the ride went into production, the cars resembled monoplanes.
Bartlett’s first patent for the ride was filed October 14, 1926. (Note 1) It described the Flying Turns as:
“. . . an amusement device . . . a runway having bends therein and the bends banked, a passenger carrier provided with forward castor wheels and means for protecting the carrier onto the runway at a comparatively high velocity, the amount of banking at the bends of the runway being such that the passing carrier is self-steering throughout its travel.”
In 1928 Bartlett met John Miller and the two men formed a partnership to build the new ride. It is unlikely that Bartlett could have built the Flying Turns on his own, especially since he didn’t know “the difference between a ten-penny nail and a two-by-four,” according to one of Miller’s engineers. Miller designed the loading station, supporting structure, incline, and braking system. Bartlett worked on the cars.
The prototype ride was built and operated at Lakeside Park in Dayton, Ohio. (Miller had an office at the National Amusement Device Corporation across the street from the park.) The ride opened in July, 1929 and by November has heralded a success by The Billboard:
“John A Miller and J. N. Bartlett’s new aviation gravity ride, Flying Turns . . . created considerable interest among amusement park men . . . The builders say the Flying Turns was developed to give the patrons the free feeling of flying, and that the half-barrel rolls that the car goes thru from one vertical bank to the opposite vertical bank reproduces exactly the movement as it would be executed in the air . . . Miller and Bartlett fell that in offering this ride to the park men they provide an opportunity to capitalize on the universal interest in aviation.”
Like a roller coaster, the Flying Turns was a gravity ride; unlike a coaster, there were no tracks. Cars were pulled up the incline by a chain lift and released into a cylindrical course laid out in a series of descending turns and figure eights. Traveling at considerable speed (Note 2) the cars continually turned and banked, often in a nearly perpendicular position to the horizontal. Because of the speed and centrifugal force riders experienced intense G-forces.
The second Flying Turns, located at Euclid Beach Park was the highest Flying Turns ever built. (Note 3) The ride opened for the 1930 season and proved to be the last Miller and Bartlett collaboration. This great ride was torn down after the park closed in 1969.
The year 1929 brought the stock market crash and the start of the Great Depression. The 1930’s were hard on the amusement park industry overall and Bartlett was able to build only a few Flying Turns during those years at these locations:
Note 1: The patent was filed in Great Britain, 279109A.
Note 2: Speed an a good day was 26-27 mph.
Note 3: Euclid Beach Park is closed for the season, Appendix F, Dimensions of the Rides. Ascent to top of first turn 214’1”.
A modern remake of an old classic. Construction began in January of 2006. An initial delay was due to an issue with the roller coaster car's wheels. 2009 the ride was re-tracked and profiled to accommodate new trains. May 26, 2012 a section of track at the brake platform, as well as the brake platform itself had been removed. July 30, 2012 the removed section had been rebuilt to accommodate the newest trains being delivered. August 2012 the plan was to begin testing the newest trains, believing they figured out how to get the trains to run smoothly. On October 5, 2013 the ride officially opened to the public.
THE ARCH Editor: John Marn
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THE MILLER AND BARTLETT FLYING TURNS
This article appeared in The Arch, Euclid Beach Park Now's Quarterly Newsletter Volume 17, Issue 1, Fall 2005