Fireball is a ride made by Dutch manufacturer KMG. Since the first one debuted in 1998, the ride has gone on to be one of the most widely seen “spectacular” rides at fairs around the world. The ride was one of the first high G-force pendulum style rides that seem to be all the rage these days.
The ride itself is comprised of four large supports that hold up a hub at the top. The supports are attached to two trailers that contain water tanks to act as a ballast for the ride. From the hub hangs a large boom with a claw looking wheel at the bottom. The claw has six arms with gondolas attached to the ends of each arm, each one containing four seats for a total of 24 passengers. Riders are secured with a bulky, over the shoulder harness.
After everyone is secured, the loading platform lowers and the boom holding the claw begins to swing, much like on a swinging ship ride. The claw then begins to rotate as the arm swings. The claw is billed to rotate at a maximum of 15 RPM. The boom will continue to swing until it hits a peak of 120 degrees, basically half upside down. The maximum height of the swing is 65ft (20m.) At the bottom of the swing, riders are subjected to some pretty substantial G-forces. If you happen to be on the side of the claw that is rotating with the motion at the time of the swing, the G-force will feel even higher!
Fire Ball is not the official name of this ride. The ride is formally called “Afterburner” by KMG with Fire Ball being one of the more popular themes for the ride. Other names given to this ride are Wild Claw, Cyclops, Chaos, and Rocket.
KMG offers a one trailer version of the Fireball called Freak Out which has four sets of seats as opposed to six. Freak Out also has a front to back swing configuration as opposed to Fireball’s side to side configuration. This allows the the ride to swing over the midway. KMG also offers a massive, 130ft (40m) model called XXL. It holds 20 riders, racks onto three trailers, and can swing up to an incredible 151ft (47m.)
After the ride’s success, many other companies quickly produced their own versions of Fireball. One of the most noteworthy are Chance’s Revolution rides that many amusement parks have installed. Revolution comes in two flavors: 20 seat and 32 seat. Another common one is Technical Park’s Street Fighter which, like Freak Out, holds 16 riders. Technical Park also has a looping version named Street Fighter Revolution. Mondial offers an XXL type ride called Mistral, which in turn comes in inward and outward facing seat models. At one time, Zamperla and Fabbri offered Fireball type rides called Nitro and Space Jam respectively.
The ride became widely known in the summer of 2017 when an unfortunate accident occurred involving a Fire Ball ride at the Ohio State Fair. Afterwards, KMG ordered Fire Ball rides worldwide up to certain serial number to be closed while they investigated the cause of the accident. Their findings indicated that the accident was caused by excessive interior corrosion of the hollow support beam that holds the rider gondola. KMG released a safety bulletin on August 2nd, 2017 outlining how to inspect for corrosion inside the beam as well as adding scheduled visual inspections of the affected area. The safety bulletin can be viewed at this link.
A KMG Freak Out in action