Eyerly Aircraft Company

Last updated
Eyerly Aircraft Company
Industry Manufacturing and design
Founded1930 (1930)
Founder Lee Eyerly
Defunct1990 (1990)
United States
Area served
Products Aircraft, amusement rides

Eyerly Aircraft Company was an amusement ride manufacturing company in Salem, Oregon, founded by Lee Eyerly in 1930. The company originally intended to design flight simulators for the aircraft industry but shifted to amusement rides after an early simulator, called Orientator, became a popular pay-per-ride attraction with the public. The company manufactured rides until 1985 and went bankrupt in 1990, following a fatal accident in 1988 that occurred on a ride built by the company.


Aircraft manufacturing

Lee Eyerly founded Eyerly Aircraft Company in 1930 to manufacture two inexpensive ways to train pilots which he devised when the Great Depression hit. The first was the Whiffle Hen, [1] a plane which only burned two US gallons (8 L) of fuel per hour of flight. The second was a ground-based flight training device patented under the name "Orientator". The Orientator consisted of a small airplane suspended in what looked like the tines of a giant tuning fork. Air from the electrically driven propeller passed over the wings and rudder, and the operator controlled the movements of the plane in a manner similar to a real aircraft. [2] The Orientator was produced commercially and eventually renamed the Acroplane.

Amusement rides

A salesman approached Eyerly about selling them to carnivals and parks as an amusement ride after noticing several Acroplanes stored on the lot outside Eyerly's shop. While Eyerly was initially skeptical, he agreed to a deal which led to selling about 50 Acroplanes as an amusement ride. The following year, Eyerly changed the company's focus from aircraft to amusement rides based on the successful sales. [2] Eyerly developed and patented numerous amusement rides which would become staples of carnival midways, including The Loop-O-Plane (1933), [2] [3] the Roll-O-Plane, [4] the Fly-O-Plane and the Rock-O-Plane (1947). [5] [6] Perhaps their most popular design was the Octopus, [4] which resulted in later variations: the Spider and the Monster. Two of the company's kiddie carousel rides were the Midge-O-Racer and Bulgy the Whale. [7]

Although Eyerly's manufacturing business became amusement rides, the name of the company remained Eyerly Aircraft Company. [7]

A partial list of the Eyerly Aircraft Company rides and their locations follows.

MonsterUnknown 1962 Seattle World's Fair UnknownClosedAppears similar to a Monster, but only had 5 arms instead of the typical 6.
Rock-O-PlaneRock-O-PlaneAll Star Adventures (Wichita, Kansas)UnknownOpen [8] [9]
SpiderSpiderAll Star Adventures (Wichita, Kansas)UnknownOpen [10] [8]
SpiderSpiderAll Star Amusements (Showman)UnknownUnknown
Freddie the FishBulgy the Whale Arnolds Park UnknownOpen [11]
Rock-O-PlaneRock-O-Plane Arnolds Park UnknownOpen [12]
Roll-O-PlaneRoll-O-Plane Arnolds Park UnknownOpen [13]
SpiderSpider Arnolds Park UnknownClosed [14]
Rock-O-PlaneRock-O-PlaneBig Amusements (Showman)UnknownOpen
Monster!Monster Blackpool Pleasure Beach 19681995 [15]
Dragon LoopsLoop-O-PlaneBlue Sky Amusements (Showman)UnknownOpen [16]
Killer WhalesBulgy the WhaleBoardwalk Amusements (Daytona Beach, Florida)2017ClosedTrailer mounted; new whale vehicles. [17]
Monstrous MambaMonster Busch Gardens Tampa 19761995After removal the ride was sold for scrap. [18]
OctopusOctopusC&L Shows (Showman)UnknownOpen [19]
LobsterMonster California's Great America 1976Closed [20]
SpiderSpider Camden Park Unknown2011Removed after incident hospitalized three riders. [21]
FuryMonster Canada's Wonderland 19812003Originally named Shiva's Fury. Sat in storage after removal. Ultimately sent to Kings Island for spare part usage on their similar Monster. [22]
Black WidowMonster Carowinds 19731987Originally named The Witch Doctor. Relocated within park in 1977. Replaced with Cinema 180. [23]
SpiderSpider Castle Park UnknownOpen [24]
MonsterMonster Cedar Point 1970OpenRefurbished in 2014 alongside renovated Gemini Midway. [25] [26]
MonsterMonster Coney Island (Cincinnati) 19681971Relocated to Kings Island after park closure. [27]
Rock-O-PlanesRock-O-Plane Coney Island (Cincinnati) 20072019Relocated from LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park. Following removal, listed for sale on Rides4U for $19,000.
Clown FishBulgy the WhaleDeggeller Attractions, Inc. (Showman)UnknownOpen [28]
WhalesBulgy the Whale DelGrosso's Amusement Park UnknownOpen [29]
MonsterMonster Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom 1995OpenRemoved for addition of Dominator in 1998, but refurbished and returned to operation in 2000. [30]
MonsterMonster EsselWorld (India)UnknownOpen [31] [32]
OctopusOctopusFantasy Farm (Middletown, Ohio)19871991Purchased by Nolan Amusements for $17,500 after park closed. [33] [34]
SpiderSpider Fun Spot America Theme Parks (Atlanta) UnknownOpen [35]
Black SquidSpider Geauga Lake 19702007Relocated to Kings Dominion; sat in storage but never operated.
MonsterMonster Ghost Town Village 19922000Ride did not reopen with park in 2007.
Bulgy the GoldfishBulgy the Whale Gilroy Gardens UnknownOpen [36]
OctopusOctopusHammerl Amusements (Showman)UnknownOpen [37]
MonsterMonster Hersheypark 19721982Replaced by Tilt-A-Whirl. [38]
Dancer's FishBulgy the Whale Holiday World & Splashin' Safari UnknownOpenPreviously named Salmon Run. Relocated within park for 2014 season. [39]
Paul Revere's Midnight RideSpider Holiday World & Splashin' Safari 19782011Originally named Spider Ride. Removed due to dependability issues. [40]
Green MachineLoop-O-PlaneHydro Free Fair1980sOpen [41]
Loop-O-PlaneLoop-O-Plane Idora Park 1936Closed [42]
MonsterMonster Idora Park 1972Closed [42]
Flying OcotpusOctopus Idora Park 1938ClosedAcquired from Great Lakes Exposition in Cleveland. [42]
Rock-O-PlaneRock-O-Plane Idora Park 19761984 [42]
SpiderSpider Idora Park 1973Closed [42]
Clown FishBulgy the WhaleJames H. Drew Exposition (Showman)UnknownOpen [43]
UnknownSpiderJolly Roger at 30th StreetUnknownUnknown
UnknownLoop-O-PlaneKeansburg Amusement ParkUnknownUnknown [44]
Loop-O-PlaneLoop-O-Plane Kennywood Unknown1950 [45]
Monongahela MonsterMonster Kennywood 19791989
Roll-O-PlaneRoll-O-Plane Kennywood 19502003
MonsterMonster Kings Dominion 19751988Originally named Bad Apple. [46]
MonsterMonster Kings Island 1972OpenRelocated from Coney Island after park closure. Maintained with parts from The Fury at Canada's Wonderland. [22] [47]
Rock-O-PlanesRock-O-PlaneKissel Entertainment (Showman)UnknownUnknown
SatelliteRoll-O-Plane Knoebels Amusement Resort UnknownOpen [48]
Bulgy the WhaleBulgy the Whale Lagoon 1956Open [49]
Rock-O-PlanesRock-O-Plane Lagoon 8 May 1954Open
OctopusOctopus Lagoon 8 May 19541979
Loop-O-PlaneLoop-O-Plane Lagoon 19721987
1st. Flying Jets

Current Name

Flying Aces

Fly-O-Plane Lagoon Open
Roll-O-PlaneRoll-O-Plane Lagoon 30 Mar 1947ClosedBurned Down in fire of 53
Roll-O-PlaneRoll-O-Plane Lagoon 8 May 19541971
Roll-O-PlaneSuper Roll-O-Plane Lagoon 1 Apr 19722002metal fatigue caused the arm to bend during the ride cycle when it was rotating horizontally. No one on the ride was injured.
Fly-O-PlaneFly-O-Plane Lake Winnepesaukah 2000ClosedEjected two riders in 2016. [50] [51]
MonsterMonster Lakemont Park UnknownClosed [52]
OctopusOctopus Lakemont Park UnknownClosed [53]
Loop-O-PlaneLoop-O-Plane Lakeside Amusement Park UnknownOpen
Giant OctopusOctopus LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park 1944Closed
Rock-O-PlanesRock-O-Plane LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park 1949ClosedReceived new cars in 1990. Relocated to Coney Island after park closure.
MustekalaMonster Linnanmäki 19791984After removal the ride was scrapped and replaced with a similar, more efficient model.
SpiderSpider Luna Park, Melbourne 1983OpenHead on top of Spider designed by children's book author Leigh Hobbs in 2001. Ride modified to enable all the arms to load and unload simultaneously. [54]
Willie the WhaleBulgy the WhaleMichael's Amusements (Showman)UnknownOpen [55]
BulletLoop-O-Plane Miracle Strip Amusement Park Unknown2004This ride was sold to Sylvan Beach, New York's Amusement Park after Miracle Strip permanently closed, but later transformed into a Rock-O-Plane . [44]
SpiderMonsterModern Midways (Showman)UnknownOpen
Rock-O-PlaneRock-O-Plane Oaks Amusement Park UnknownOpen
SpiderSpider Oaks Amusement Park UnknownOpen
Ahuna Thrill Ride, TheOctopus Pacific Ocean Park UnknownClosedOriginally named Mrs. Squid. Dual Tub Octopus with a squid decor in the center. [56]
Mr. OctopusOctopus Pacific Ocean Park UnknownClosed [56]
UnknownSpiderRace City PCBUnknownUnknown
Bulgy the WhaleBulgy the Whale Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk UnknownOpen [57]
MonsterMonster Silverwood UnknownClosedReplaced by Trabant.
Black DragonMonster Six Flags AstroWorld 19681977 [58]
Jolly MonsterMonster Six Flags Magic Mountain 19731981 [59]
SpiderSpider Six Flags New England 19682006
Crazy LegsMonster Six Flags Over Texas 19731982 [60]
MoMo the MonsterMonster Six Flags St. Louis 19731994Replaced by River View Racer. [61]
Bulgy the WhaleBulgy the WhaleSkerbeck Family Carnival (Showman)UnknownOpen [62]
MonsterMonsterSunshine Amusements (Showman)Unknown1988Crashed during 1988 Broward County Fair, causing a fatality. After the incident, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission asked all owners and operators of Monster attractions to perform metallurgical inspection of their rides. [63] [64]
Rock-O-PlaneRock-O-PlaneSylvan Beach Amusement ParkUnknownOpen [65]
BomberRoll-O-PlaneSylvan Beach Amusement ParkUnknownOpen [65]
Bulgy the WhaleBulgy the WhaleTinkertown Family Fun ParkUnknownOpen [66]
Rock-O-PlanesRock-O-Plane Upper Clements Parks Unknown2019 [67]
MonsterMonster Valleyfair 1977OpenUsing the former Octopus at Worlds of Fun for spare parts. [68] [69]
Bulgy the WhaleBulgy the WhaleWade Shows (Showman)UnknownOpen [70]
OctopusOctopus Whalom Park UnknownClosed
Funnel WebSpider Wonderland Sydney 19851989Removed and placed in storage; current whereabouts unknown.
OctopusMonster Worlds of Fun 19732014Originally named Oriental Octopus, then later Tailspinner. Ride was absent from park for 1997 season, but returned in 1998 with new cars. Its pieces are currently used for Monster at Valleyfair. [69]
GuppiesBulgy the Whale Wyandot Lake Unknown2006
BarracudaRock-O-Plane Wyandot Lake Unknown1999
Black SquidSpider Wyandot Lake Unknown2006
Little RacersMidge-O-RacerPlayland, Fresno, CA1955OpenRide was one of the originals when Rotary Playland opened in 1955 on the SW corner of Roeding Park in Fresno, CA. It was called "Midge-O-Racer" but the name was changed to "Little Racers" after a generous donationby a local car dealership. It is one of only two rides made by Eyerly that are known to be still running.[ citation needed ]
Rock-O-PlaneRock-O-PlaneThomas Amusements (Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada)UnknownSeasonal [71]


Eyerly Aircraft Company continued to produce amusement rides until 1985. [72] A fatal accident occurred at a Florida fair in 1988, where an arm of an Octopus ride snapped along an existing crack that was paint-covered and missed in inspections. [73] A 17-year-old female died of head injuries when the basket she was riding in collided with another as it fell to the ground. [73] [74] A wrongful death lawsuit was brought against the ride's owner and county fair operator for failure to properly inspect and reinforce the ride. [75] [74] In the wake of the lawsuit, Eyerly Aircraft filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors permanently in 1990. [72] The intellectual property rights to their rides were later purchased by Oregon Rides Inc. [6]

See also

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