Eyerly Aircraft Company

Eyerly Aircraft Company was an amusement ride manufacturing company in Salem, Oregon, founded by Lee Eyerly in 1930. The company originally intended to design flight simulators for the aircraft industry but shifted to amusement rides after an early simulator, called Orientator, became a popular pay-per-ride attraction with the public. The company manufactured rides until 1985 and went bankrupt in 1990, following a fatal accident in 1988 that occurred on a ride built by the company.

Eyerly Aircraft Company
IndustryManufacturing and design
Founded1930 (1930)
FounderLee Eyerly
Defunct1990 (1990)
Headquarters,
United States
Area served
Worldwide
ProductsAircraft, amusement rides

Aircraft manufacturingEdit

Lee Eyerly founded Eyerly Aircraft Company in 1930 to manufacture two inexpensive ways to train pilots which he devised when the Great Depression hit. The first was the Whiffle Hen,[1] a plane which only burned two US gallons (8 L) of fuel per hour of flight. The second was a ground-based flight training device patented under the name "Orientator". The Orientator consisted of a small airplane suspended in what looked like the tines of a giant tuning fork. Air from the electrically driven propeller passed over the wings and rudder, and the operator controlled the movements of the plane in a manner similar to a real aircraft.[2] The Orientator was produced commercially and eventually renamed the Acroplane.

Amusement ridesEdit

A salesman approached Eyerly about selling them to carnivals and parks as an amusement ride after noticing several Acroplanes stored on the lot outside Eyerly's shop. While Eyerly was initially skeptical, he agreed to a deal which led to selling about 50 Acroplanes as an amusement ride. The following year, Eyerly changed the company's focus from aircraft to amusement rides based on the successful sales.[2] Eyerly developed and patented numerous amusement rides which would become staples of carnival midways, including The Loop-O-Plane (1933),[2][3] the Roll-O-Plane,[4] the Fly-O-Plane and the Rock-O-Plane (1947).[5][6] Perhaps their most popular design was the Octopus,[4] which resulted in later variations: the Spider and the Monster. Two of the company's kiddie carousel rides were the Midge-O-Racer and Bulgy the Whale.[7]

Although Eyerly's manufacturing business became amusement rides, the name of the company remained Eyerly Aircraft Company.[7]

A partial list of the Eyerly Aircraft Company rides and their locations follows.

Name Model Park Open Closed Details
Monster Unknown 1962 Seattle World's Fair Unknown Closed Appears similar to a Monster, but only had 5 arms instead of the typical 6.
Rock-O-Plane Rock-O-Plane All Star Adventures (Wichita, Kansas) Unknown Open [8][9]
Spider Spider All Star Adventures (Wichita, Kansas) Unknown Open [10][8]
Spider Spider All Star Amusements (Showman) Unknown Unknown
Freddie the Fish Bulgy the Whale Arnolds Park Unknown Open [11]
Rock-O-Plane Rock-O-Plane Arnolds Park Unknown Open [12]
Roll-O-Plane Roll-O-Plane Arnolds Park Unknown Open [13]
Spider Spider Arnolds Park Unknown Closed [14]
Rock-O-Plane Rock-O-Plane Big Amusements (Showman) Unknown Open
Monster! Monster Blackpool Pleasure Beach 1968 1995 [15]
Dragon Loops Loop-O-Plane Blue Sky Amusements (Showman) Unknown Open [16]
Killer Whales Bulgy the Whale Boardwalk Amusements (Daytona Beach, Florida) 2017 Closed Trailer mounted; new whale vehicles.[17]
Monstrous Mamba Monster Busch Gardens Tampa 1976 1995 After removal the ride was sold for scrap.[18]
Octopus Octopus C&L Shows (Showman) Unknown Open [19]
Lobster Monster California's Great America 1976 Closed [20]
Spider Spider Camden Park Unknown 2011 Removed after incident hospitalized three riders.[21]
Fury Monster Canada's Wonderland 1981 2003 Originally named Shiva's Fury. Sat in storage after removal. Ultimately sent to Kings Island for spare part usage on their similar Monster.[22]
Black Widow Monster Carowinds 1973 1987 Originally named The Witch Doctor. Relocated within park in 1977. Replaced with Cinema 180.[23]
Spider Spider Castle Park Unknown Open [24]
Monster Monster Cedar Point 1970 Open Refurbished in 2014 alongside renovated Gemini Midway.[25][26]
Monster Monster Coney Island (Cincinnati) 1968 1971 Relocated to Kings Island after park closure.[27]
Rock-O-Planes Rock-O-Plane Coney Island (Cincinnati) 2007 2019 Relocated from LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park. Following removal, listed for sale on Rides4U for $19,000.
Clown Fish Bulgy the Whale Deggeller Attractions, Inc. (Showman) Unknown Open [28]
Whales Bulgy the Whale DelGrosso's Amusement Park Unknown Open [29]
Monster Monster Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom 1995 Open Removed for addition of Dominator in 1998, but refurbished and returned to operation in 2000.[30]
Monster Monster EsselWorld (India) Unknown Open [31][32]
Octopus Octopus Fantasy Farm (Middletown, Ohio) 1987 1991 Purchased by Nolan Amusements for $17,500 after park closed.[33][34]
Spider Spider Fun Spot America Theme Parks (Atlanta) Unknown Open [35]
Black Squid Spider Geauga Lake 1970 2007 Relocated to Kings Dominion; sat in storage but never operated.
Monster Monster Ghost Town Village 1992 2000 Ride did not reopen with park in 2007.
Bulgy the Goldfish Bulgy the Whale Gilroy Gardens Unknown Open [36]
Octopus Octopus Hammerl Amusements (Showman) Unknown Open [37]
Monster Monster Hersheypark 1972 1982 Replaced by Tilt-A-Whirl.[38]
Dancer's Fish Bulgy the Whale Holiday World & Splashin' Safari Unknown Open Previously named Salmon Run. Relocated within park for 2014 season.[39]
Paul Revere's Midnight Ride Spider Holiday World & Splashin' Safari 1978 2011 Originally named Spider Ride. Removed due to dependability issues.[40]
Green Machine Loop-O-Plane Hydro Free Fair 1980s Open [41]
Loop-O-Plane Loop-O-Plane Idora Park 1936 Closed [42]
Monster Monster Idora Park 1972 Closed [42]
Flying Ocotpus Octopus Idora Park 1938 Closed Acquired from Great Lakes Exposition in Cleveland.[42]
Rock-O-Plane Rock-O-Plane Idora Park 1976 1984 [42]
Spider Spider Idora Park 1973 Closed [42]
Clown Fish Bulgy the Whale James H. Drew Exposition (Showman) Unknown Open [43]
Unknown Spider Jolly Roger at 30th Street Unknown Unknown
Unknown Loop-O-Plane Keansburg Amusement Park Unknown Unknown [44]
Loop-O-Plane Loop-O-Plane Kennywood Unknown 1950 [45]
Monongahela Monster Monster Kennywood 1979 1989
Roll-O-Plane Roll-O-Plane Kennywood 1950 2003
Monster Monster Kings Dominion 1975 1988 Originally named Bad Apple.[46]
Monster Monster Kings Island 1972 Open Relocated from Coney Island after park closure. Maintained with parts from The Fury at Canada's Wonderland.[22][47]
Rock-O-Planes Rock-O-Plane Kissel Entertainment (Showman) Unknown Unknown
Satellite Roll-O-Plane Knoebels Amusement Resort Unknown Open [48]
Bulgy the Whale Bulgy the Whale Lagoon 1956 Open [49]
Rock-O-Planes Rock-O-Plane Lagoon 8 May 1954 Open
Octopus Octopus Lagoon 8 May 1954 1979
Loop-O-Plane Loop-O-Plane Lagoon 1972 1987
1st. Flying Jets

Current Name

Flying Aces

Fly-O-Plane Lagoon Open
Roll-O-Plane Roll-O-Plane Lagoon 30 Mar 1947 Closed Burned Down in fire of 53
Roll-O-Plane Roll-O-Plane Lagoon 8 May 1954 1971
Roll-O-Plane Super Roll-O-Plane Lagoon 1 Apr 1972 2002 metal fatigue caused the arm to bend during the ride cycle when it was rotating horizontally. No one on the ride was injured.
Fly-O-Plane Fly-O-Plane Lake Winnepesaukah 2000 Closed Ejected two riders in 2016.[50][51]
Monster Monster Lakemont Park Unknown Closed [52]
Octopus Octopus Lakemont Park Unknown Closed [53]
Loop-O-Plane Loop-O-Plane Lakeside Amusement Park Unknown Open
Giant Octopus Octopus LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park 1944 Closed
Rock-O-Planes Rock-O-Plane LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park 1949 Closed Received new cars in 1990. Relocated to Coney Island after park closure.
Mustekala Monster Linnanmäki 1979 1984 After removal the ride was scrapped and replaced with a similar, more efficient model.
Spider Spider Luna Park, Melbourne 1983 Open Head on top of Spider designed by children's book author Leigh Hobbs in 2001. Ride modified to enable all the arms to load and unload simultaneously.[54]
Willie the Whale Bulgy the Whale Michael's Amusements (Showman) Unknown Open [55]
Bullet Loop-O-Plane Miracle Strip Amusement Park Unknown 2004 This ride was sold to Sylvan Beach, New York's Amusement Park after Miracle Strip permanently closed, but later transformed into a Rock-O-Plane.[44]
Spider Monster Modern Midways (Showman) Unknown Open
Rock-O-Plane Rock-O-Plane Oaks Amusement Park Unknown Open
Spider Spider Oaks Amusement Park Unknown Open
Ahuna Thrill Ride, The Octopus Pacific Ocean Park Unknown Closed Originally named Mrs. Squid. Dual Tub Octopus with a squid decor in the center.[56]
Mr. Octopus Octopus Pacific Ocean Park Unknown Closed [56]
Unknown Spider Race City PCB Unknown Unknown
Bulgy the Whale Bulgy the Whale Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Unknown Open [57]
Monster Monster Silverwood Unknown Closed Replaced by Trabant.
Black Dragon Monster Six Flags AstroWorld 1968 1977 [58]
Jolly Monster Monster Six Flags Magic Mountain 1973 1981 [59]
Spider Spider Six Flags New England 1968 2006
Crazy Legs Monster Six Flags Over Texas 1973 1982 [60]
MoMo the Monster Monster Six Flags St. Louis 1973 1994 Replaced by River View Racer.[61]
Bulgy the Whale Bulgy the Whale Skerbeck Family Carnival (Showman) Unknown Open [62]
Monster Monster Sunshine Amusements (Showman) Unknown 1988 Crashed during 1988 Broward County Fair, causing a fatality. After the incident, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission asked all owners and operators of Monster attractions to perform metallurgical inspection of their rides.[63][64]
Rock-O-Plane Rock-O-Plane Sylvan Beach Amusement Park Unknown Open [65]
Bomber Roll-O-Plane Sylvan Beach Amusement Park Unknown Open [65]
Bulgy the Whale Bulgy the Whale Tinkertown Family Fun Park Unknown Open [66]
Rock-O-Planes Rock-O-Plane Upper Clements Parks Unknown 2019 [67]
Monster Monster Valleyfair 1977 Open Using the former Octopus at Worlds of Fun for spare parts.[68][69]
Bulgy the Whale Bulgy the Whale Wade Shows (Showman) Unknown Open [70]
Octopus Octopus Whalom Park Unknown Closed
Funnel Web Spider Wonderland Sydney 1985 1989 Removed and placed in storage; current whereabouts unknown.
Octopus Monster Worlds of Fun 1973 2014 Originally named Oriental Octopus, then later Tailspinner. Ride was absent from park for 1997 season, but returned in 1998 with new cars. Its pieces are currently used for Monster at Valleyfair.[69]
Guppies Bulgy the Whale Wyandot Lake Unknown 2006
Barracuda Rock-O-Plane Wyandot Lake Unknown 1999
Black Squid Spider Wyandot Lake Unknown 2006
Little Racers Midge-O-Racer Playland, Fresno, CA 1955 Open Ride was one of the originals when Rotary Playland opened in 1955 on the SW corner of Roeding Park in Fresno, CA. It was called "Midge-O-Racer" but the name was changed to "Little Racers" after a generous donationby a local car dealership. It is one of only two rides made by Eyerly that are known to be still running.[citation needed]
Rock-O-Plane Rock-O-Plane Thomas Amusements (Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada) Unknown Seasonal [71]

ClosureEdit

Eyerly Aircraft Company continued to produce amusement rides until 1985.[72] A fatal accident occurred at a Florida fair in 1988, where an arm of an Octopus ride snapped along an existing crack that was paint-covered and missed in inspections.[73] A 17-year-old female died of head injuries when the basket she was riding in collided with another as it fell to the ground.[73][74] A wrongful death lawsuit was brought against the ride's owner and county fair operator for failure to properly inspect and reinforce the ride.[75][74] In the wake of the lawsuit, Eyerly Aircraft filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors permanently in 1990.[72] The intellectual property rights to their rides were later purchased by Oregon Rides Inc.[6]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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