White Trash Carny Ride #5: Paratrooper

Note: WT Carny Rides are NOT dangerous. Definitely give em' a ride if you see one!
A hydraulic lifting Paratrooper. A rim driven model looks similar.

A hydraulic lifting Paratrooper. A rim driven model looks similar.

The Paratrooper, manufactured by Hrubetz, is a ride that consists of a large wheel with hanging chairs attached to it. The wheel spins up and then rises to an angle. It’s a fun ride! But then there are the rim-driven (aka non-hydraulic) models as well, and while the lifting versions are pretty white trash carnie ride, the rim driven ones perfectly fit the bill. These are Paratrooper wheels that are simply attached to a tower. Instead of everyone loading at once, the cars are loaded one at a time in a ferris wheel fashion.

These just look white trash for some reason. The rim-driven ones are always old looking because they ARE old. The original Paratroopers were of this type, and the hydraulic lifting ones came out afterwards. It’s rim-driven via a tire drive, of course this means that screeching and other concerning sounds are produced by this attraction. These old Paratroopers also seem to run a bit faster, and with the simple “just there for looks” restraints on a Paratrooper…well it’s not the best feeling safety wise. Also, since the wheel doesn’t spin up in a flat position, the chairs swing and shake like crazy while spinning up before they settle down after the top speed is reached.

The Ride

I’ll just document my ride on a genuine Rim Driven Paratrooper…

I went on one in maybe 1996 at the good old Meadowlands Fair, the showcase for weird amusement rides in my part of NJ. My friend and I got into the seat waiting for us, and were rotated to the highest point; the ride op then proceeded to wait for more people to come aboard. My friend farted maybe 5 minutes into the wait, and it made the seat vibrate…it was kind of funny…but we were still waiting (lovely story so far, huh?) Five minutes later the ride started moving again, I have no idea if anyone else got on. The ride spun up to a very brisk speed, enough to swing the cars completely sideways at the highest point. It was very scary…and very rickety…and very white trash carnie ride.

Other Info

While I don’t think any company has tried to re-make the rim-driven Paratrooper, there are a few non-Hrubetz made Paratroopers. One is the Heintz Fahtze made Twister which is basically an updated Paratrooper; Haymaker at Six Flags Darien Lake is a Twister. There’s also the Cliffhanger made by Dartron which is a hang gliding version of the Paratrooper. Riders lay on their stomachs instead of sitting. I find the ride to be pretty uncomfortable if it lasts for more than two minutes however.

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10 Comments

  • Tiffany says:

    I rode this ride once and only once. I was 14 and with my brother who had just turned 16. I remember we were waiting for everyone to load when all of a sudden the ride began. I must say it literally scared the life out of me. We were completly sideways the whole time and the only thing holding us in was a bar that didn’t even touch our bodies. We were pressed together against the hard plastic and I was screaming so hard I eventually lost my voice. I actually began sobbing at one point. We were going so fast everything was a blur. When the jackass carnie finally stopped he opened our bar and said “Oh wait the bar is broken sorry folks gotta wait for the next seats to come around.” I was dizzy, disoriented and actually fell to my knee’s to kiss the ground I walked on.

  • BACH says:

    i think the one at our area is like not as intense cause its like a total easy ride

    • DoD3Brian says:

      Some are definately worse than others. I think the rim-driven versions where the wheel is permanently on an angle are the worst because the cars rock like crazy while getting up to speed.

  • Chris says:

    I went on of these a long time ago (sounds like I got the rim driven kind – it’s the only kind I’ve ever seen) and it was a horrible experience. Every time our car was at the bottom of the cycle it would rock back and forth really hard, like as if someone had jammed on the breaks and let go. I remember the entire ride being like that. It was so uncomfortable and scary, I was just praying for it to be over. The irony is that if memory serves me correctly, we had waited in line for AGES to get on it, and there was even a delay to hose off one of the seats if you know what I mean. And then it was an awful ride. So… yeah.

  • garry says:

    Hollywood Star Finnendahl Onride (FÄHTZ) ….check this out on youtube….here is a pratrooper type ride where the seats actually turn and face all 4 directions once the ride lifts….I rode this once in Seaside Heights Casino Pier in the mid 80’s….it was called the Dancing Queen…..it was only there for about 2 years, and was out of service the 2nd time I went.
    I’ve never seen it again….apparently it it popular on the German fair circuit…

    • DoD3Brian says:

      That Hollywood Star ride looks like a trip!

      Was Dancing Queen the same as the Hollywood Star ride or was it this ride ( http://bit.ly/otKlXf ) of the same name? Because I know those Huss Troika rides like the one in the link were pretty popular in the 80s or so here in the US.

  • garry says:

    it was the same ride as Hollywood Star..Troika was like a combo Enterprise /Spider deal, right? this was a ride very similar in start up and performance as a lifting Paratrooper, the difference was the entire ride elevated, then dropped like a Trabant would angle, and the cars turned slowly in all 4 directions….it was a great ride!………

  • Jag says:

    I rode a rim driven model in the 80s. My sister and I were terrified and screaming with our eyes closed for most of the ride. She was on the outside, and her leg brushed against a tree branch on the way down every rotation. This was one of the scariest rides I’ve ever ridden, but I was 9 years old. It was at my local fair every year growing up, and I never rode it again. Maybe I’ll try it again as an adult.

  • Raymond says:

    The tops of the cars always reminded me of M&M’s LOL

  • Gaige says:

    The Cliffhangeris definitely the best out of these models.

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