Welcome to the construction archive of Secret Weapon 5! Here you can take a look back at the coverage TowersTimes provided of Air, from initial work starting in March 2001, right through to opening week in March 2002. The photos in this archive have been restored and enhanced from the original SW5Live minisite, which can still be found here.
Once land clearing was complete, construction started on the duel station building foundations and the impressive tunnel that the craft will travel through before emerging out of the ground into the lift hill. The incline will pass underneath the monorail and then over Nemesis.
Work continued on pouring the concrete structure of the first tunnel, along with the footers for the supports in this area. The second tunnel, where the craft will swoop underneath the main pathway, was also excavated.
Once the tunnel structure is complete, the supports can be fitted which were due to be delivered in September, along with the roof then installed. Continued excavation and groundwork was the main focus of the work, with footers and foundations being poured.
The remaining footers for the lift hill and first drop were now poured. The first tunnel walls were nearing completion. Viewing holes were installed in the construction walls which was a nice touch for inquisitive guests.
The first tunnel was nearly complete, ready for the supports and track to be added in this area, and then the roof installed over the top. Further footers for the layout were now visible, along with the installation of the station flooring and two trenches for the lowering floors.
Pins were added to the foundations which would eventually bolt the supports on to the footers. Vertical construction commenced with the installation of the supports for the station track. The name and branding of the new ride were finally revealed this month: Air – a new generation flying coaster. Marketing then went one step further with a model of the attraction installed in Towers Trading. Guests were directed inside by a sign stating “Come inside to see the future of rollercoaster technology”.
The track and ride steelwork continued to arrive this month, to then be quickly installed on the construction site. The station was the first of the structure to be installed, followed by the track leading to the lift hill, then the lift hill itself, the first drop, and finally a new first of its kind element; the fly-to-lie inversion. The first tunnel then started to be covered over with concrete slabs.
Work was focused on completing the track layout of the ride, with the fly-to-lie inversion completed, swooping turn on the hillside down into the tunnel, and then the turn above the path by the entrance to the area. Later in the month the impressive inline inline twist was erected, along with the station and shop structure. Elsewhere in Forbidden Valley, the former Astro Dancer / Dino Dancer, a Huss Breakdance, was installed at the top of the area as a support attraction to help soak up the crowds for the 2002 season.
In December the crafts arrived on site, all wrapped in plastic awaiting installation on the ride. The design of the flying coaster trains were revolutionary, and a refreshing departure from the awkward trains that Vekoma had created for their version. The track layout was completed with the installation of the final helix visible from the car park.
February and the new year saw the area start to look more complete, with the fit out underway of Air’s station and shop building, games unit, along with installation of the queue lines and block paving throughout the area. Ride testing commenced and these were the first official photos of the monumental occasion. The installation of Dynamo was nearing completion, now situated in the third different location in the theme park.
Ride testing and commissioning of Air continued through to the start of March, with the first riders able to experience the new generation flying coaster. It was now evident how the loading process worked. Riders sit in the seats as you would on Nemesis in the standard ‘inverted position’. You then place your legs into the holders and your vest restraint is lowered, with the leg flaps then moving back into place over your shin. The floor lowers and the train tilts into the flying position.
Opening day for Air and the 2002 season finally arrived when guests got to experience the new attraction for the first time. John Wardley, designer of the ride in collaboration with B&M, made an appearance and was keen to hear feedback from riders which was generally positive. Final touches around the area were still to be completed, including finishing the landscaping, adding the logo to the entrance sign, and completing the painting of the queue line fences. The reliability of the ride was inconsistent with lots of teething issues starting to emerge.
Air experienced various periods of downtime with constant teething issues in its first week of operation. B&M had always been known for their reliable attractions, but being the prototype flying coaster, Air was the exception. For a few days the right hand side of the station was out of action as the bar on the craft tilting mechanism snapped. The crafts would require constant re-checks on their restraints causing delays to dispatches, and further issues with the tilting mechanism caused riders to be stuck in the flying position frequently. Thankfully it was not too long before the issues were ironed out by B&M and Consign, and the ride began to operate more reliably. The final touches to the wider area were finished off, which saw changes to the food and games units further over in Forbidden Valley.