The Miller and Bartlett 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. The Billboard described it as follows (July 9, 1927):
“….an amusement device, …a runway having bends therein and the bends banked, a passenger carrier provided with forward castor wheels and means for projecting 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 thruout 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 was 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 feel 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 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 in Cleveland, Ohio, was the highest Flying Turns ever built. 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 Flying Turns at Euclid Beach Park, Cleveland, Ohio
Postcard Image of The Flying Turns at Euclid Beach Park
- Rocky Point, Providence, Rhode Island for the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, 1931.
- Century of Progress World’s Fair, Chicago, Illinois, 1933. This ride was moved to Chicago’s Riverview Park in 1935.
- Forest Park Highlands, St. Louis, Missouri, 1934.
- Steeplechase Park, Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York, 1934. This ride was destroyed in a fire in September 1939.
- Palisades Park, Palisades, New Jersey. This was Bartlett’s new version of the Flying Turns called the Lake Placid Bobsled. The track was wider and cars were linked in seven car trains. A violent ride, it was removed from the park following World War II.
- New York World’s Fair, 1939-40. This was Bartlett’s final Bobsled ride. After the fair closed the ride was moved to New York’s Coney Island where it operated until the early 1970s.