The Flying Cages
Of the many rides that have come and gone from the Boardwalk over the decades, one was uniquely memorable – the Flying Cages. Between 1962 and 1972, this ride sat opposite the Shooting Gallery and Sportland Arcade, where the Double Shot sits now.
You only rode on the cages if you were ready for a work out - and that took practice! There were four cages in the ride set, each painted a different color.
Each cage was attached to four counter-weighted arms. Once in a cage, you positioned yourself with no restraints. The operator would give a slight push to get momentum rolling and then it was up to you to pump and sway and leverage your weight to move the cage faster in a vertical loop. Accomplished riders could get the cage to make a full revolution fairly quickly. Then it was up to you to keep momentum going and rotating ever faster. Two people could be in one cage which made it a little trickier to maintain momentum.
As a Boardwalk employee back in the 60s, I rode the cages many times. Some operators, like Big Ted (I forget his last name), would use us like shills to draw a crowd. Sometimes several of us would get on and race – each attempting to best the other for the greatest number of revolutions. I remember my highest count was about 120 revolutions in a ride session of 3 or 4 minutes. I dared not let go of the handrails and lose my balance or it would be curtains after that!
For another trick, with practice and skill a rider could initially shift weight just enough to bring the cage to a stop at the top of its revolving arc. Then it would be nudged into a full rotation with increasing speed.
The cages did not stop on a dime either. The operator would raise a hand brake that would create friction against a bottom rail on the cage and slowly bring the ride to a stop. Sometimes, operators would grab hold of the cage as it rose up in front of them and be lifted up to act as a counterweight to accelerate stopping. Working on the ride could be a workout too!
What are your memories of the "cages"? Anyone remember your best number of full revolutions in a ride session?
It was quite a ride, and a workout, too. Two benefits for one activity. Can’t beat that!