Galactica (previously Air) (Arial Inversion Ride) is a Bolliger & Mabillard flying roller coaster located at Alton Towers in Staffordshire, England. The ride was originally scheduled to open in 1998, but due to the complex features of the ride, it was postponed until 2002. Opening instead, in 1998, was Oblivion. Before its official name was released, Air was codenamed SW5 or Secret Weapon 5.
The idea for Galactica came to fruition after many years of planning, and construction started towards the beginning of 2001. Advertisments for the ride were placed around the park towards the end of that year. In early 2002, testing began on one of the world's most technologically advanced rides ever made, and the ride opened on March 16, 2002 at a cost of £12 million. Both Oblivion and Galactica hold the record for one of the most expensive rides ever built at Alton Towers. Special crash-test dummies were used during testing. The passengers of the first ride were manufacturers and the designers. After adjustments, the ride opened on March 16, 2002.
Early difficulties with unreliability were reduced towards the end of the first year, and problems are now rare.
Before Galactica, Ride designers said the way forward was bigger and faster roller coasters. Galactica's popularity suggested that this was not the case, and that roller coaster enthusiasts seek unique, different ride experiences, not just bigger and taller thrill rides.
The ride has become extremely popular at Alton Towers, with it's unique experience of flying. Guests can expect a queue of up to 2 hours before riding.
The ride's project name was Secret Weapon 5 (SW5), which followed other similar project names at the park. SW4 was Oblivion, SW3 was Nemesis and SW1 and 2 were ideas not implemented on the site of Nemesis. SW6 was the code name for Thirteen, and the latest project is called The Smiler (SW7), a custom Gerstlauer Infinity Coaster.
In July 2015, Alton Towers submitted planning permission to make improvements to the ride. These included the addition of a new photo kiosk, the addition of a photo opportunity into the queue, pre-show areas, walls around the station building and two new theming elements. These will debut in 2016, along with the restaurant. In October 2015, Alton Towers said to "prepare for a new flight" and to "watch this space", in a statement made on their website. In early November 2015, the Air Shop closed and on-ride photos stopped being sold, in preparation of the new changes. On January 12, 2016, Air was renamed Galactica as part of the new theme and refurbishment.
On January 12, 2016, Alton Towers confirmed at the London Science Museum that Air would become the world's first roller coaster dedicated to virtual reality, adopting the new name 'Galactica'. Mounted in each craft is a fleet of virtual reality headsets that riders can wear, simulating a flight through the cosmos. The virtual reality experience is optional, and guests are able to experience the ride as it currently stands.
In addition to the virtual reality aspect of the new theme, various thematic structures such as 'the launch portal' and adaptations made to the station building are to be implemented. A brand new Rollercoaster Restaurant will also accompany the development in the ride's previous retail store.
Galactica's track layout consists of several close-to-the-ground turns, and dives over and under park paths, giving the illusion of flying. At one point in the ride, the riders are turned on their backs so they face the sky.
- This ride feature a duel station, this allows a train to unload while a different train loads on the other platform. It also features a transfer track which can store a train when it's not in use.
- Air was painted light-blue with black supports. Galactica is now painted entirely black.
Galactica starts with a short passage through a tunnel out of the station, followed by a lift hill. Galactica's first drop dips to the right, rises up to a 180 deg turn, and drops down in to a large drop to ground level. Galactica's track then twists over so riders are riding on their backs, performing a large upward left turn before twisting back so riders are once again in the prone position, flying underneath a small ravine. Galactica's track then pitches up in to a tight turn before performing a 360 degree in-line twist. Galactica's train then hits the brake run and re-enters one of Galactica's two stations.
- Construction started: Mid 2001
- Designed by: John Wardley
- Constructed by: JJ Cavanagh Construction
- Programmed by: Consign AG
- Located in Forbidden Valley section of Alton Towers
|Alton Towers Roller Coasters|
|Present||Air • Nemesis • Oblivion • Rita • Runaway Mine Train • Smiler • Spinball Whizzer • Thirteen|
|Former||4 Man Bob • Alton Mouse • Beastie • Black Hole • Corkscrew • Mini Apple • New Beast • Thunderlooper|
|Concepts||Secret Weapon 1 & 2 • unknown|