News Column

Backyard dream is 'ride' here in Hutch

July 13, 2014

By Kathy Hanks, The Hutchinson News, Kan.



July 13--Daredevils may be flocking to Kansas City'sSchlitterbahn Water Park to ride the Verruckt or to Gurnee, Ill., to ride the world's fastest wooden roller coaster. But next summer, the hot spot for the death-defying could be Skyler Cohen's backyard.

Kids should dream big, and Skyler is turning his vision into reality in the center of Hutchinson. Like most dreams, it's taking shape in increments. But it actually does look like the beginning of a roller coaster.

"I'm trying," said Skyler, 16, who thinks he might want to be a roller-coaster engineer someday. He has been riding roller coasters when he can and taking note of every detail involved in the construction. Plus, he has been doing research. He knows of the most impressive rides like the Kinga Ka in New Jersey with its incline of 400 feet and speeds of more than 100 miles per hour.

After researching, he went to work on his own idea with the help of his friend, Dalton Reavis.

Already there is visible evidence of a thrill machine in the Cohen's quiet backyard. His parents are aware of what he is doing.

"They think it's crazy, but cool," he said.

The plan is to complete a track that dips down and then takes a sharp curve before heading back up. Once it goes up again, it will stop and slowly back down to a stop.

To support the structure, he has used reinforced beams braced in buckets of hardened cement. Getting the turn in the track was a challenge to create; he ended up bending PVC pipe with his bare hands.

"I love roller coasters and the adrenalin rush you get riding them. You can't get that in everyday life," said Skyler.

Riders will have to wait their turn for their adrenalin rush on this single-seat ride. But once operational, the thrill will be there on the first incline. He has already created the prototype seat and chosen wisely, using "up-stop" wheels that keep the roller coaster stable. According to Roller Coaster 101, "up-stop wheels are placed under the rail to prevent the vehicle from coming off the track over airtime hills." Obviously, a roller-coaster's wheels can make or break the ride.

"This will be safer than Kansas City," said Skyler. That's a relief because he has plans to strap pillows around his 7-year-old niece and wrap her in bubble wrap, then let her make the maiden voyage.

He said the ride should hold a 260-pound person because his friend's father hung from the structure and it didn't crumble.

After purchasing the official wheels and some of the lumber, pipe and cement for part of the track, Skyler was met with the reality many construction companies experience in tough economic times -- cash flow. After all, it takes money for supplies, and Skyler and Dalton have already sunk more than $100 into this backyard amusement park ride. Along with finishing the track, he plans to build steps and a platform for easy access to the ride.

The project shouldn't be stalled for long. Skyler is mowing lawns to bring in some cash. When it's finally complete, he might just have to give up the lawn mowing business and charge admission for rides.

Years from now, when Skyler's an old man and a world renowned roller-coaster engineer, maybe he'll tell a reporter how it all began in his backyard in Kansas the summer he was 16.

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(c)2014 The Hutchinson News (Hutchinson, Kan.)

Visit The Hutchinson News (Hutchinson, Kan.) at www.hutchnews.com

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Source: Hutchinson News, The (KS)


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