Ready for take off! Here we go!

Really not recommended for the faint of heart: the forces at play in this ride act like a rocket launch. Apollo 13 style. A huge wheel bearing the passenger cars climbs skywards – and then tips over, ever so slowly, on its own axis. The gondolas pick up speed, the passengers grip their safety harnesses more and more tightly. Faster, faster, even faster still. A frenzy of spinning and tumbling without a break. A Simatic controller ensures the jaunt remains a fun Wiesn ride.

All the nitty gritty stuff...

... annoys Willy Kaiser, attraction operator and ‘Predator’ owner. He arrived at the Theresienwiese two days ago and has since assembled the ride together with his team. He has three haulage trucks on the road, in addition to a big caravan. Together with the towing vehicle, his middle haulage truck containing the frame and the technology weighs a whopping 93 tons. He is only allowed to drive with a special permit that charts his route in minute detail and, for example, guarantees the requisite stability of the bridges he will be crossing. The crane work is finished, all the steel parts have been installed – now it is time for the decorations. Willy himself admits that this type of work is really not up his street. However, as a perfect appearance is naturally very important to him, he leaves the decorating to his team and his wife, Wilma Kaiser.

A high-velocity sky ride

Two days before the official opening of the festivities, Munich's City Council invites the press to a tour of the grounds and introduces the novelties. A huge crowd of journalists roves across the still closed funfair grounds, halting at individual attractions. Willy Kaiser is nervous. Everything needs to work properly now. The stereo system is playing, the lights are flashing. An empty test run is performed. Everything is fine. Then, suddenly, Munich’s mayor, Dieter Reiter, is standing in front of him with the whole entourage in tow, hands him the microphone and asks him to explain the ride. Willy Kaiser is prepared and sings his praises of the high-velocity sky ride. “The central turning unit of the ‘Predator’ drives two hydraulically raised masts. The podium rotates. The big gondola wheel is mounted onto these two masts and also rotates at varying speeds. When it reaches the top, at a height of 15 meters, the gondola wheel flips over – and you can enjoy an incomparably spine-tingling joyride. It’s a one-and-only on the Wiesn”, he says explaining the attraction, and then declares: “Right folks, everyone is invited to a free ride. Forty people can take a seat!” And every single journalist actually climbs aboard. The adventure begins with onlookers taking photographs and shooting videos. Microphones capture the loud screams as the loop-in-loop ride accelerates at neck-breaking speed.

Siemens technology on the job

A Simatic S7-1500 controller reacts in the control booth. It has the carousel firmly under control, in the truest sense of the word, reliably and securely taking care of perfect illumination with the chaser lights systems, control of the motors, torque calculation for the rotation and the correct speed. And, most importantly, the safety harness lock. If everything is not absolutely correct, and all the safety harnesses are not properly locked, the ‘All Clear’ for the start will not be given. All the instruments are arranged clearly, including the big red switch. “That’s the emergency button,” says the boss.

 

He prefers to steer the carousel with an individual ride program. “In this way, I can react to the audience and see how the people are taking it. Will there be an encore lap – or are there already lots of pale faces? The ride should be fun, not torture, for the passengers. I like to see the guests boarding a second time,” says Willy Kaiser explaining his philosophy. Usually, his riders are mostly young people. “We had an elderly lady a few weeks ago who bought a chip. At least 70 years old. I asked her if she had watched the ride already and knew what to expect. Yes, everything’s fine, she answered. I didn’t take my eyes off this lady during the ride. Will she hold out to the end? Yes, she did.” “And was very pleased after the ride and came back the next day,” chips in Wilma Kaiser. So, it is a multi-generation carousel after all.

Watch – or ride?

The Oktoberfest has been running for several days now. Willy and Wilma Kaiser are well satisfied. The location at the intersection of the Schaustellerstraße and the Matthias-Pschorr-Straße is excellent and business is booming. In the evening, the crowds form groups in front of the attraction. Some of them are passengers waiting for their turn, others are curious onlookers who would never climb into an infernal machine like the Predator.


Want to have a try? Have fun! Please stow your mobile phone and keys away safely before the ride begins. By the way, the name ‘Predator’ harks back to an American action movie from 1987, with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead role.

2018-09-26

 

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