Thrill of looping: the latest ride of 1934

From the June, 1934 issue of Modern Mechanix, this squib on a new carny ride that had debuted in LA, that supplied "the thrills of looping."
A car resembling the cockpit of a plane is supported on a hollow steel tube which pivots on a large ball bearing mechanism at the top of its steel frame.

The device is powered by a small electric motor which swings the car back and forth, gradually increasing the arc until enough momentum is developed to carry it over the top.



  1. Yeah, that thing does not look safe. Some dinky metal contraption from the ’30s isn’t going to go trebuchet-style on me! You’d fly into the next state, fer cryin’ out loud!

    Seriously, Imagine the stress on that one metal beam holding the thing up when the cabin descends. Not to mention the joint between the cabin and the arm!

    Did the Depression totally like undermine peoples sense of danger or what? “Yeah, I’d totally ride in the crazy loop thing, and I love to have radioactive stuff in my toothpaste!”

  2. And it’s just a toy compared to the great, steampunk-as-f*ck (okay, Edwardian) Flip-Flap ride at the Franco-English Exhibition of 1908! (Oh, just google it.)

  3. nonsense…the ride is safe and many are still in operation. back in my days as a ride operator (NOT A CARNY) at a certain pennsylvania amusement resort i greatly enjoyed running the double balanced car model (the salt and pepper shakers; the satellite; etc.)what a wonderful exercise in applied physics and a great source of revenue what with all the change and pocketknives extracted from patrons pockets.

  4. Reminds me of an early version of a ride that used to come to the annual “Hoppings” fair in Newcastle in the 70s/80s. It was called the “Dive Bombers” and there was two carriages instead of one but pretty much the same ride. They were a popular ride until one “bomber” snapped off one year and crashed into I believe the dodgems.

  5. It’s completely nuts to spin an off-balance load like that. Something is going to break, and you don’t want to be near it when it happens.

    The modern version of this ride has a counter-balance.

  6. For some of us, going on any of these rides, safe or not, seems as appealing as being waterboarded.

  7. @3: ok, so i just HAD to look it up. for the easy edification of others, here’s info i found about the coney island version here

    Captain Paul Boyton opened Sea Lion Park in the spring of 1895. It looked run down by today’s standards and had only a few attractions. One of the most popular was the Shoot-the-Chutes, a ride he had perfected one year before at his park in Chicago. Another was the Flip Flap railway, designed by Lina Beecher. Roller coasters often get the unnecessary reputation as dangerous creations, unfortunately this was one ride where that was well deserved. The Flip Flap has made its way into the annals of roller coaster history because it was such a badly designed ride. It is hard to tell from this picture, but the coaster’s inversion was different from almost every loop today in that it was perfectly circular. This may not seem like a bad idea, but it is pretty obvious Mr. Beecher was not very experienced with physics. Instead of an enjoyable trip upside down, riders experienced 12 g’s as they went through the loop. The most g’s found now on a coaster hovers between 5 and 6 and those a specific sitting position. In the Flip Flap a few passengers simply stepped in a “box on wheels” and hoped that by using a death grip on the sides of the car they would not fall out (which was unlikely because of the g’s) or get injured. The ride had a reputation for snapping rider’s necks and was dismantled after it had run a few years. However, the concept of the loop was not lost forever.

    sounds FANTASTIC. more evidence that our grandparents could kick our wimpy asses.

  8. Looking at that ride, you just _know_
    that something is going to break.
    At the very least, there should be a
    second support on the other side of
    the axis.

  9. I don’t think it’s so much that people of the era had a death wish. I think it’s more that they were conditioned to accept that people would occasionally just die some kind of sudden and horrible mechanical death. They pretty much all worked in fields full of astonishingly hazardous agricultural machinery or in pre-OSHA factories and steel mills, coal mines, etc.

    It’s kind of like the way people who grew up in agricultural settings tend to be much less queasy and sensitive about animal deaths than are refined, modern urbanites. (And kind of the way we aren’t scared to death whenever we see a car even though they kill more than a million of us worldwide every year.)

    Their toys were pretty badass too…

  10. I totally feel like I missed part of my childhood experience because I never got to ride one of these things. I would ride by the temporary carnival site in my parent’s car and drool at the ride but my parents always thought it was a bad idea or something. Then I stopped seeing them around and forgot all about them.

    My memory is of ones that were counterbalanced with 2 cars swinging in opposite directions and the cab you ride in, on the end of the arm, ROTATED at the same time so you really got spun.

    Now as an adult I would love to find one in a theme park to experience it. I presume they’d allow 40-year-olds in them. :-) Anyone happen to know where there is one in Northern California or at any theme park anywhere in the US?

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