Pneumatic launched roller coasters are very similar to hydraulic launched ones. The major difference between the two types is Pneumatic Launch roller coasters use compressed air, whereas hydraulic launched models use nitrogen gas or oil. With a pneumatic launched roller coaster, acceleration is nearly constant but the resulting loud noises caused by the whooshing air can be an annoying issue for theme parks.
Pneumatic Launched Thrill Rides
Using a similar mechanism as a Hydraulic launched roller coaster, a pneumatic launch uses compressed air to launch the vehicle. The technology was developed by S&S who also produce drop tower rides using compressed air. There are few examples of their pneumatic launched roller coasters, but you can find the vertical equivalent, ‘Cliff Hanger’ at Flamingo Land Resort in North Yorkshire. Cliff Hanger is the UK’s only S&S combo tower vertical drop ride, and one of the tallest in Europe, when visiting the North Yorkshire theme park, you can’t miss it. You can also clearly hear the compressed air as it is transferred to and from the storage chamber when the ride is in operation.
The first roller coaster to feature a pneumatic launch was the Hypersonic XLC, opened at Kings Dominion in Virginia, USA in 2001. This roller coaster closed in 2007, and another incarnation, the Ring Racer, a Formula One-themed roller coaster at the Nürburgring race track was open for only 3 days. It closed soon after opening because the ride was declared as not being economically viable. The only remaining operating roller coaster to use a pneumatic launch is Do-Dodonpa, located at Fuji-Q Highland in Japan, launching passengers from 0 to 112mph (180kph) in 1.56 seconds.