American Eagle is a two track racing wooden roller coaster located at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois, United States. It was manufactured by Intamin of Switzerland (their first wooden roller coaster ) and built in 1981 by the contracting firm Figley-Wright. While this record has since been relinquished, American Eagle was the tallest (drop height) and fastest wooden roller coaster ever at the time of its completion, and is still one of the premier racing wooden roller coasters in the United States. In 2006, American Eagle celebrated its Silver Anniversary.
Soaring high above the County Fair section of the park, this massive dual-track wooden racing coaster spans almost the entire southern edge of the park. The out-and-back design features a very recognizable 560-degree helix at the turnaround point and a first drop that dips 20 feet (6.1 m) below ground level. An original design feature was a set of holding brakes that would perch trains at the top of the lift hill for a brief moment, giving riders a bird's-eye view before releasing them to soar down the 147-foot (45 m)-tall (45 m) first drop at a 55-degree angle.
Use of the holding brakes was short-lived and the brakes themselves were eventually removed so that the trains just go right down the drop. The ride was also originally designed to run with a total of six trains; however, that number has since been reduced to four (two per track). American Eagle uses three-bench, five-car trains built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. The trains were originally designed with single-position lap bars but are now equipped with individual lap bars and seatbelts, making the trains on both American Eagle and Viper similar.
Previous world records:
Current world records:
- Fastest roller coaster until 1988 (7 years).
- Largest drop on a roller coaster until 1988 (7 years) (succeeded by Shockwave).
- Tallest wooden roller coaster until 1985 (4 years).
- Fastest wooden roller coaster until 2000 (19 years) (succeeded by Son of Beast at Kings Island).
- Largest drop on a wooden roller coaster until 1989 (8 years) (succeeded by Hercules at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom).
- Fastest racing wooden roller coaster.
- Longest racing wooden roller coaster.
- Tallest racing wooden roller coaster.
- Largest drop on a racing wooden roller coaster.
Type Wood - Racing
Designer Curtis D. Summers, James Figley, Leonard Wright
Track layout Out and back
Lift/launch system Chain
127 ft (38.7 m) 127 ft (38.7 m)
147 ft (44.8 m) 147 ft (44.8 m)
4650 ft (1417.3 m) 4650 ft (1417.3 m)
66 mph (106.2 km/h) 66 mph (106.2 km/h)
Max vertical angle
Capacity 1800 riders per hour
Height restriction 4 ft 0 in (122 cm)
Trains 4 2-Blue 2-Red trains with 5 cars. Riders are arranged 2 across in 3 rows for a total of 30 riders per train.