Most of the early funfair rides were things like carousels, Noah’s arks and dodgems. Exciting rides, but all with a similar movement, you go around in circles. What we would call thrill rides came later, and nowadays most of the high thrill attractions have you leave the ground. One of the earliest examples of this was the Dive Bomber.
Initially created by the Eyerly Aircraft company which was formed to create equipment to help train pilots. They moved into the amusement ride arena, and gradually moved away from their original business model. Much of what they designed had an aviation feel, and the dive bomber was no exception.
Roll O Plane
Patented in 1938 by Eyerly, as the ‘Roll-O-Plane’, the ride had two cylindrical shaped cars on the end of a rotating boom. As the arm rotated the ends of the cylinders rotated to keep the riders sitting upright. The chain drive made it a particularly noisy ride, added to the usual decor of a fighter plane and it was an imposing, thrilling ride for the era.
Lusse Dive Bomber
Lusse Brothers of Blackpool (American designers) developed the ride for the UK market under licence from Eyerly. Building their first version in 1939 and the last of 25 examples in 1949. With the recent end of WWII the ride was perfectly themed for the fairgoers of that era.
One of the drawbacks was its low passenger capacity, but a number of enterprising UK showmen, joined two rides together to double this as in the Carters model above.
The rides were a high maintenance device and eventually fell out of favour, I can just remember them as a kid in the 80’s and only for a few years. Truth be told I seem to remember them having a propensity to fold up, what Elon Musk would call a RUD (rapid unscheduled disassembly). The testing regime in those days wasn’t as developed as today, with x-ray and dye penetration testing, so I think the metal was a little overstressed for the job it was doing.
The Modern Bomber
Like many things in life, the wheel turned and a new version appeared. Built by Italian manufacturer Fabbri as the Booster Maxx, this is a much bigger, much faster and carries a lot more riders (up to 16). It is also a lot more sturdily constructed with modern techniques and materials. It is easily one of the highest and fastest rides on the circuit. Bringing the same aerial thrills to new generations.
National Fairground and Circus Archive https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/nfca/researchandarticles/divebomber