My son Brandon and I are spending a lot of time at Six Flags America this summer. Its a good father-son bonding experience, as well as a way for Brandon to test my laid-back parenting style by trying everything at the park that is either remotely intense or possibly dangerous - at least twice.
I did not expect Brandon to choose as his last ride one day - The Skycoaster. This diabolical device looks downright silly. First, they put you in a strange looking "flight suit" and attach a steel cable to your backside. Then, you are slowly hoisted up a launch pole to about a hundred feet, then ordered from below to pull a rip cord. The flyer plumments earthward, then begins huge free fall swings from a supporting tower, just a few feet from the ground. The fun continues, until momentum is lost and the ride's handlers can stop the flyer. The Skycoaster is not a "sky sled", or any car-like thing you can pretend keeps you safe. It is a giant, naked, swingset.
It is very important to me that my son recognizes his own independence. So when he said he wanted to do this, I really couldn't say no. I knew the kids who operate the ride, and I knew how hard they worked to get certified on it. I also know they rode the Skycoaster themselves every morning to test it. They take their jobs seriously. They are kids, but they are responsible kids. The ride, though frightening, is one of the safer rides in the park. In fact; safer than the Six Flags parking lot.
To be honest, I was hoping Brandon would have second thoughts halfway up the launch tower. Not a chance. I am petrified of heights, but my son isn't. And he has that smart-ass invulnerabity most kids have, coupled with a Jamaican streak that makes him always right. The guys gave him every opportunity to back out gracefully, taking him up slowly, and telling him he could come down anytime. But to his credit, Brandon yelled, "take me to the top."
So there he was; a little speck, ten stories in the air. "One, two, three - fly!", and my one and only son began falling to the ground below.
We both survived.
NOTE: A very special thanks to Michelle Murphy; for thoughtfully taking these pictures and sending them to me. It takes a Mom to have the presence of mind to document rites-of-passage in her child's life. Her son was in line right behind Brandon, so she had her camera ready. She took pity on the blithering idiot in front of her who wasn't thinking clearly at the time, and she took these pics. Again, thank you.
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