Monday, March 28, 2011

My First Roller Coaster Ride - Hunt's Pier, The Flyer

My father spent a lot of time in Wildwood in the 1930s, 40s & 50s. His mother worked as a ticket girl on Hunt's Pier every summer from the mid 50's through the late 70s, so it makes sense his favorite Roller Coaster was The Flyer on Hunt's Pier.

When I was little I was scared to death of roller coasters. This got my old man down, as he really wanted to take me on my first coaster ride. Like a wimp, it took me 13 years before I finally got the courage to go on. So, one summer night in 1982, my father (at the age of 51) and I got on The fact, he somehow managed to get us into the front seat.

What a wild blast! That sucker whipped me around like a ragdoll. My dad was laughing the whole a kid himself...and I was yelling WHAOOOOHOOO! most of the trip. The wooden coaster (built in 1957 and showing obvious signs of age) creaked and rattled like crazy as the car zipped over the tracks at what seemed like a hundred miles an hour. At least three times, I though the car was going to come off the tracks...just like they wanted riders to think.
I especially like this photo as it shows the cars that ran on the track under the pier.

Damn, what a great thrill that ride was. I can still remember it like it was yesterday. When we got off the ride, my old man asked me how I liked it...I told him it was great. He was so excited that he got to take me on that ride that I though he was going to have a stroke. I wasn't far off from that assumption...I figured the huffing and puffing and wheezing was from the thrill of the ride, but I found out later he'd been diagnosed with emphysema, congestive heart failure and a few other nasty things that basically meant he should never have gone on that ride. That's how much it meant to him to take me on that coaster, and I'm so damned glad I got to do it.

All good things must come to an end, especially so it seems in Wildwood, and in 1989 Hunt's tore down The Flyer and replaced it with a more modern coaster. Damn shame, but as I always say, at least we have the memories.

-Christopher Pinto, author of Murder Behind the Closet Door, the Wildwood Paranormal Murder Mystery.