Monday, November 26, 2007

The History of Chair-O-Planes

The Chair-O-Planes, sometimes called a swing carousel or wave swinger, is a fairground ride that is a variation on the carousel in which the chairs are suspended on chains from the rotating top of the carousel. As the rotation speed of the Chair-O-Planes increases, the chairs are thrown outwards by centrifugal force. On some versions, particularly on the Wave Swingers the rotating top of the carousel also tilts for additional variations of motion.

Having made peace with Germany, it was from here as well as America that many of the new rides of the 1920s were to come from. Possibly the precursor of modern thrill rides was the "The Whip" built in the United States by W.F. Mangels Co of Coney Island. A few examples found their way to Britain, but much more numerous in the early days were Chair-o- Planes. Although a small number of these were built in England, most of them were imported from Germany where they were built by several companies, including Bothmann of Gotha, Saxony. The origin of the ride is not clear. But it is known that this type of swings ride was present at even the earliest amusement parks. At Idora Park in Oakland, California, in 1908, the ride was called Flying Swing, but appears to be the same principle.

Loudoun Castle Theme Park in Scotland claims that its moon shaped ride, "The Plough", is the largest Chair-O-Plane in the world. The Plough was originally called Apollo 14 and was owned by the Bembom family, operating in their Ponypark Slagharen in Holland during the late seventies. It had gondolas travelling around the outside of the ride. When moved to Dreamland in England (then called "Bembom Brothers"), it was reconstructed into a Chair-O-Plane and named Heatwave. Later on, Henk Bembom moved Heatwave to his new park, Loudoun Castle, where it was renamed "The Plough" and painted green.

Most of the swing carousel rides in North America are located at amusement parks. They are usually made by Zierer (which calls the ride Wave swinger), although some are made by Bertazzon (which calls the ride Swing Carousel) or Zamperla (which calls the ride Flying Carousel). Find out more at:

Research info gathered at:

Now, here's a poem you can swing on:


Unfortunately, in
the original version
no mention is made
of sensitive passages,
but later, in a fax of
memory red lights
blink, thrills are
misquoted, and a
kettle boils as goose
steps march pass
predestination to
a place where every
face is a gesture
and a small crowd
of accusing fingers
point at the parade.

Poem first published at:
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Copyright 2007 by Maurice Oliver. All Rights Reserved.

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