For this Ride Review we’re taking a look at Flight Deck from California’s Great America!
Flight Deck is a custom B&M Inverted coaster, and is relatively small, but packs a lot. It is most definitely the ride at CGA that has the most theming to it. The ride opened as Top Gun, when the park was still owned by Paramount, and still has all the scenery that came with it. The only difference is the lack of music and branding the ride has, it seems kind of alternative, and could use a little help finding a unique identity once again. Other than that, Flight Deck is among the best rides in the park, battling with the all new Gold Striker.
Once riders have made their way to the entrance of the ride, they are welcomed by the ‘Flight Deck’ sign that stands under the ride. The line is pretty short, moves really fast, and has lots of scenery. The line will pass by a huge screen with an aircraft carrier on it, and will ultimately pass under the huge ‘Flight Deck’ sign. From this point you’ll enter the more ‘themed’ line where you walk through a small, we guess, flight deck :D. Once you’ve had enough time to enjoy the scenery you’ll get to the stairs that lead up to the station. The ironic thing about CGA is that most rides have half covered waiting lines, but stations out in the sun. We’re not a fan of that, we advise them to just place some covers over the stations, which will hardly cost them any money and will make guests a whole lot more satisfied. Anyways, you will be assigned rows, and you’ll wait in the sun a bit before you board the trains, that have way shorter seat-belts than any other B&M we’ve ever been on…
Once the floors lower, and the ride is about to start, you will turn around a corner with lines on the cat-walk making it look as of you are following lines that an aircraft normally would. Once you are on your way up the lift-hill, you have time to look at the giant 49ers stadium that is being build on the other side of the relatively small parking lot. Once you’ve reached the top of the 102 ft lift hill, you are about to drop 91 ft. Once on the bottom you will reach speeds of 50 MPH, and will immediately fly into the first and only looping, which is less powerful than a Batman loop, but is definitely not force-less either. Once on the bottom you will fly by some on-ride photo cams before entering the long helix up. Once on top of the helix the train will dive down to immediately spiral through a ‘perfectly’ formed zero-G-roll. Where ever you are seated in the train this smooth, pretty low, and perfect speed zero-G-roll gives you the actual weightlessness as it was meant to. Honestly lots of zero-G-rolls nowadays smack you around as you sit in the outside seats, this one doesn’t. When the train rolls out of it, it will pass over the waiting line flying straight ahead approaching the huge screen with the aircraft carrier on their, this adds to the nice scenery and the ride experience. The train will then dive down for the last time to immediately kick into the corkscrew. The corkscrew is similar to the second one on a Batman clone, not too powerful, but definitely has a nice speed while doing so. After the corkscrew riders will pass lower of the water as they fly through the last helix on their way back to the station.
This really nice themed ride makes you forget that you’re at CGA for a while, since it looks better and has more to offer than almost any ride there. Yes, it is really short, but it definitely makes up for that with the scenery and unique lay-out. A great thing about the lines is that, even when the lines are totally full, and will be flowing over, the line barely gets 20-25 minutes long, resulting in an average line of about 15 minutes when 2 trains are operating, and it is fairly crowded at the park. The line’s excessive theming makes up for the, already short, wait and thus the short ride is still worth the lines.
When looking at all B&M Inverted coasters out there, this might be the most unique one. It is definitely short, but delivers a totally different experience than the extremely force-full Batman clones, and is nice and compact but yet spread out. Therefore it is also totally different from most other B&M inverts since they are all huge compared to this one. It is unique, and it’ll be pretty hard to experience anything similar elsewhere! Therefore this is also the best ride at CGA (together with Gold Striker) and if you had to choose between any rides in the park, you should really consider this as a ‘must-do’!