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Winged roller coaster being built at Six Flags Great America

Six Flags GreAmericGurnee announces plans for X-Flight roller coaster for 2012 season.  | Special Sun-Times Media

Six Flags Great America in Gurnee announces plans for the X-Flight roller coaster for the 2012 season. | Special to Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 4, 2011 8:17PM



A winged roller coaster will debut next year at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee.

Riders on the X-Flight coaster will have no track above or below them. They will sit in pairs suspended on either side of the track with their feet dangling. The coaster will include a 12-story plunge, 3,000 feet of drops and reach speeds of 55 mph. Six Flags announced the new coaster Thursday.

Six Flags Great America president Hank Salemi says “the coaster’s train actually looks like a plane with seats suspended on either side of the track.” A news release describes the ride speeding “straight toward a structure, before making a last-minute vertical flip to fit through a keyhole cut-out.”

Construction starts this fall, and X-Flight will open in the spring.

The ride is created by the Swiss firm Bolliger & Mabillard, designer of such Six Flags Great America staples as Raging Bull and Batman: The Ride.

Park spokeswoman Jennifer Savage said the ride is designed to make riders feel like they’re experiencing “the bottom of Batman and the top of Raging Bull,” and visitors to Fright Fest later this month will notice X-Flight starting to take shape.“It’s near the County Fair food court, on the former site of Splashwater Falls,” she said. “We’re going to start (construction) right after this weekend, and there hasn’t been anything there since Splashwater Falls closed in 2007, so people will definitely be able to see the construction process during Fright Fest.”

X-Flight reportedly will carry 32 passengers per train, sitting in pairs on either side of the track. According to information released by park officials, the inversions on the three-minute ride will include “an extreme fly-through where the coaster speeds straight toward a structure, before making a last-minute vertical flip to fit through a keyhole cut-out.”

The announcement of the new coaster comes a month after Great America announced that it will close Iron Wolf on Labor Day. The stand-up steel coaster opened in April 1990 and is another Bolliger & Mabillard creation.

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