2016 heralded an out-of-this-world refresh for the Alton Towers Resort flying coaster; Air. With the help of Virtual Reality headsets, guests can expect to blast off on a space expedition combining the thrills of a rollercoaster and the visuals of space.
Galactica debuted on Thursday 24th March and features new theming as well as a new shop, photo point and changes to the station area. Although the track and trains of Air have not changes, riders now have individual VR headsets designed to warp reality around them as they ride, fooling the senses to transport them into outer space.
In 1994, Walter Bolliger and John Wardley stood watching their new creation Nemesis wow the crowds on its opening day. Whilst watching Wardley announced that suddenly they had a real problem on their hands - "How to top this?" Walter apparently turned to John and said "simple - we take the riders and turn them prone".
This simple idea in 1994 proved to be harder than they ever imagined, and the ride took 8 years to come to fruition. It's a little known fact that originally Air was intended to be Secret Weapon 4, however, the concept was far from ready, so Oblivion was constructed in its place to fill the gap until the flying coaster was ready to be built.
When Air finally did open on the 16th of March 2002, Alton Towers proudly played host to a prototype that would go on to be one of B&M's most advanced roller coaster styles.
Offering its riders the opportunity of flight, Air was one of the more serene thrill rides in the park; the perfect ride for breaking in first timers to larger attractions, offering a ride that the whole family could enjoy together.
The serenity of the attraction extended from the futuristic visuals of the ride right through to the calming soundtrack that drifted across the area, complete with audio calling for riders to "Prepare for Air"...
The ride more than held its own as a major attraction within the park for nearly thirteen years, before the folk at Galactica Tours moved in to transform the ride into a new space adventure in 2016.
As a nod to the ride's origins the redeveloped trains of Galactica are emblazoned with "Air Space Technologies", as the company that Galactica Tours have 'partnered with' to provide the propulsion technology to blast riders into space.