WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Wisdom Industries Ltd., of Sterling, Colo., are announcing a revised safety inspection program for all types of Gravitron amusement rides. The Gravitron amusement ride is a whirling cylinder which uses centrifugal force to hold riders to their seats as the seats rise, giving the illusion that the floor is dropping out. The ride is also called the Starship, Old Blue, and Trip to Mars. There are approximately 190 such rides in the U.S. and Canada.
On April 2, 2004, at the Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition in Florida, a wall panel of the Gravitron ride gave way, ejecting three riders. Seven people were injured, including two bystanders who were hit by debris. Injuries included broken bones, concussions, and bruises. A 16-year-old girl ejected from the ride was critically injured.
CPSC’s investigation of this incident and its work with the ride manufacturer, Wisdom Industries Ltd., resulted in a revised safety inspection program
to prevent future incidents. In brief, some of the elements of the inspection program include:
Inspect welds and steel components for cracks or breaks.
Inspect platform hinges for cracks or wear.
Inspect platform hinge bolts for wear.
Check tire air pressure.
Measure wing sag to make sure it is level with main table.
Inspect the underwing alignment bolts for bending and wear.
Inspect condition of fiberglass at lower end of the panel for wear.
These new safety guidelines have been sent to all owners of Gravitron rides, state inspectors and amusement ride insurers to help improve maintenance of the rides.
CPSC and Wisdom Industries announced a modification program
to improve the safety of the Gravitron rides in 1992. That program included the installation of corner pin reinforcement plates, which were in place on the ride involved in the recent incident. The revised safety inspection program should be performed in addition to the previous modification program. Wisdom Industries Ltd. can be reached at (970) 522-7515 or at their Web site: www.wisdomrides.com