£2m Red Arrows ride on track for its big take-off

Pleasure Beach technical director Alex Payne at the site of the Red Arrows Skyforce ride.
Pleasure Beach technical director Alex Payne at the site of the Red Arrows Skyforce ride.
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The countdown to take off for the Red Arrows’ latest high-flying white knuckle adventure is on.

The Blackpool Air Show favourites will be taking to the skies in the new UK exclusive ride Skyforce, opening this spring at the Pleasure Beach.

At a cost of £2m, Skyforce will see the Pleasure Beach become the world’s first tourist attraction to have a ride based on the top aerobatic display team.

Ahead of the South Shore park opening for 2015 this weekend, work is well underway both in Blackpool and at a factory in Germany.

Pleasure Beach technical director Alex Payne said: “The ride is all on track – the foundations are in and as is standard, there’s a 28-day wait to fully strengthen the concrete.

“The ride is well on with the manufacturers now, and is with the galvanisers.”

Protecting the Pleasure Beach’s rides from the corrosive effects of sand, sea water and strong winds is the foremost challenge for the site’s design team and a new system has been created to protect the metal work of Skyforce in conjunction with manufacturers Gerstlauer.

Skyforce is nestled under the main climb of the Big One rollercoster, and will be decorated with Red Arrows livery, with its own control tower.

The 12-seat ride will allow thrillseekers to soar to 23-metres while taking a personalised 360-degree tour of the skies, in control of their own Red Arrows cockpit.

When the ride was announced in the autumn, Pleasure Beach managing director Amanda Thompson hailed the partnership with the “British institution” as being a “perfect fit”, while promising visitors a “unique thrill”.

The site will include a briefing area, where riders will be told how to get the most from their ride.

Alex added: “Each of the 12 riders will get their own experience, which is very unusual and it’s one of the things which attracted us to the ride.

“The base for the ride is quite small, but the area it actually covers is 25m by 30m, and it goes up to about 23m. In relation to the Big One, it’s not that high but it’s probably higher than the Revolution.

“And of course, us being us, we like to push things – it will fly pretty close to the Big One and will go over the Big Dipper track too. That’s the gag of what we do; engineering fear into things, but with safety.”

The Red Arrows are firm favourites at the Blackpool Air Show each summer and last year the team celebrated its 50th display season.

Their Hawk jets were built by BAE Systems which manufactures the jet at Warton.