Location: Coney Mall, where Kings Mills Antique Autos now is
Model: Flight Trainer / Flying Trainer
Cost: $2 million
Vehicles: 20 two-person capsules
Description: Flight Commander was a rotating flat ride where riders encircled a tower in one of twenty two-person capsules. Joysticks in the capsules enabled the riders to raise, lower, and flip their vehicles at heights of up to 60 feet.
History: Flight Commander was the fourth Intamin Flight Trainer to open in the country, the preceding three being at Knott’s Berry Farm (Buena Park, California), Kings Dominion (Doswell, Virginia), and Great America (Santa Clara, California).
The attraction’s circular nature called for a unique loading arrangement. Riders would queue in a covered structure built adjacent to the ride platform. The queue would end in a spiral staircase that went up to the platform and into a birdcage-like area, where the guests could then line up for their individual capsule.
On June 9, 1991, a 32-year-old woman named Candy Taylor was ejected from the ride at approximately 9:25pm. The incident was the second major incident to occur at the park that day, the first having occurred in Oktoberfest approximately one hour earlier. Taylor (as well as two individuals involved in the earlier incident) passed away. Flight Commander remained closed for the remainder of the 1991 season following this event.
A six-week investigation on the Flight Commander death determined the cause of the fatality. Although Taylor had a blood alcohol level of 0.30 percent at the time of her death, it was the lack of seat divider in the ride capsule, Taylor riding alone, and the empty restraint adjacent to her not being locked that were all pinpointed as causes for the accident. Taylor’s family would settle with Kings Island in December 1992 for $336,500. The family would then sue Intamin the following February for $8.8 million.
Flight Commander reopened in April 1992, now with safety modifications. These included a new seat divider, a lengthened lapbar, and a recessed joystick that became inoperable if both restraints were not locked.
Flight Commander was removed after the 1995 season. The attraction had waned in popularity after the 1991 incident. Following its removal, it was relocated to Flamingo Land amusement park in the United Kingdom. It operated there as Top Gun from 1996 through 2004.
Following Flight Commander’s removal, its ride platform hosted a variety of minor attractions. This included Launch Pad, EuroBobbles, and the Dinosaurs Alive! Party Pavilion. The ride’s former queue line was also retained and was later used to hold some of the queue for the Kill Mart haunted house.