The first inversion and drop of The Swarm at Thorpe Park. X-Flight features a similar first drop.
|No. of installations||6 (5 operating, and 1 under construction)|
|Manufacturer||Bolliger & Mabillard|
|Vehicle type||Train seats are located level with the track on both sides.|
|Riders per row||4|
|Restraint Style||"Cover" and bar that sits on the riders waist|
|Wing Coaster at RCDB|
A Wing Coaster is a type of steel roller coaster manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard where pairs of riders sit on either side of a roller coaster track in which nothing is above or below the riders. Development of the Wing Coaster began between 2007 and 2008 leading to the opening of Raptor at Gardaland, the world's first Wing Coaster, on April 1, 2011. There are currently five Wing Coasters operating worldwide as of May 2013 with one more scheduled to open at Ocean Kingdom in 2013.
According to Walter Bolliger, development of the Wing Coaster began between 2007 and 2008. In 2010, Bolliger & Mabillard announced a prototype Wing Coaster design that would be built at Merlin Entertainments' Gardaland. It became known as Raptor, which opened on 1 April 2011. A year later, Merlin Entertainments opened a second Wing Coaster on 15 March 2012, called The Swarm at Thorpe Park.
In the United States, the first Wing Coaster to be announced was X-Flight, which opened at Six Flags Great America on 16 May 2012. Dollywood's Wild Eagle actually opened earlier on 24 March 2012, making it the first Wing Coaster in North America. On 13 August 2012, Cedar Point announced plans to build a new Wing Coaster called GateKeeper, which set new records for a Wing Coaster including longest track length, fastest speed and drop height. The first Wing Coaster in Asia, Flying Over the Rainforest, will open at Ocean Kingdom in 2013. Thorpe Park announced that the last two rows of The Swarm would be turned backwards – a first for a Wing Coaster – for the 2013 season.
|“||Nothing above, nothing below. An unprecedented feeling of freedom.||”|
—Bolliger & Mabillard
The design of a Wing Coaster differs from many traditional steel roller coaster. Unlike many roller coasters, the trains for a Wing Coaster are not located above the track but rather on the sides. With the trains in this configuration, there is nothing above and below the riders giving the feeling that they are flying freely. Also, because there is nothing on top of the track and only steel beams holding each ends of the train together, all current Wing Coasters have an object (that relates to the theme) that covers the steel beams and adds to the experience. The restraints on the trains are also different. Instead of simply having the traditional over-the-shoulder restraint bar as used on many inverted roller coasters, the Wing Coaster uses similar restraints as Bolliger & Mabillard's Flying Coaster which includes a "cover" and a restraint that sits on the riders waist holding them in place with bars on the side for the rider to hold on to. The differences are not only within the train but also the layout of the station. This is because the layout of the station for a Wing Coaster requires the queue to split in two halves. This allows riders to board the train where the seats sit level with the track.
Bolliger & Mabillard has built five Wing Coasters as of May 2013 with one more expected to open in 2013. The roller coasters are listed in order of opening dates.
|Raptor||Gardaland||Italy||April 1, 2011||Operating|||
|The Swarm||Thorpe Park||United Kingdom||March 15, 2012||Operating|||
|Wild Eagle||Dollywood||United States||March 24, 2012||Operating|||
|X-Flight||Six Flags Great America||United States||May 16, 2012||Operating|||
|GateKeeper||Cedar Point||United States||May 11, 2013||Operating|||
|Flying Over the Rainforest||Ocean Kingdom||China||2013||Under Construction|||
Similar rides 
Prior to the development of the Wing Coaster, in 2007, Intamin debuted a version of their Accelerator Coaster with modified trains similar to those used on 4th Dimension roller coasters and Wing Coasters. Known as a Wing Rider Coaster, Furius Baco at PortAventura was the first and currently only ride of its type. It launches riders from 0 to 135 kilometres per hour (84 mph) in 3.5 seconds with trains that seat six rows of four people (two on either side of the track).
In addition to the Wing Rider Coaster, Intamin has also introduced a model named Wing Coaster. The first installation was Skyrush at Hersheypark in 2012. The trains feature 2 seats are still positioned over the track and have a floor, while 2 hang over the side which are the "wings".
The Wing Coaster is also similar to John F. Mares' 4th Dimension roller coaster concept from the 1990s. However, unlike 4th Dimension roller coasters, cars on a Wing Coaster train do not spin — they are locked in place. Examples of 4th Dimension roller coasters include X2 at Six Flags Magic Mountain and Eejanaika at Fuji-Q Highland.
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- Marden, Duane. "GateKeeper (Cedar Point)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
- Haidet, Ryan (October 23, 2012). "First track pieces for GateKeeper coaster arrive". WKYC. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
- Alvey, Robb. "IAAPA 2012 Trade Show". Photo. Theme Park Review. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
- Marden, Duane. "Furius Baco (PortAventura)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
- "Wing Rider Coaster". Intamin. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
- Marden, Duane. "X2 (Six Flags Magic Mountain)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
- Marden, Duane. "Eejanaika (Fuji-Q Highland)". Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
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