Hey! Is that our track?

Heading back to Santa Claus on I-64 this afternoon following a visit with our web designers, we saw a flash of orange up ahead.

“Hey! Is that our track?”

Well, yes of course it had to be. It was orange.

And it’s become impossible for us to look at the color orange and not think of Thunderbird.

Because #OrangeIsTheNewTrack

We passed the truck before I could take any photos, so we slowed down enough to grab a few. Texted one to James and quickly heard back that, no, that didn’t look like our track. Or track at all, for that matter.


A hard hat of a different color

Oops, just realized we hadn’t blogged about our latest episode of the Hard Hat Chronicles, and there’s already another one in the works.

We get to hear from Matt, Lauren and Leah this time, in addition to James, as we watch the Immelmann (the highest point of the ride) topped.

Lauren and Leah proudly display their “girl power” with their pink hard hats. Who said construction can’t be stylish? (Just don’t look at their shoes – it was quite muddy after Thunderbird unleashed his power and stormed on us that morning.)

Do you have any questions you’d like answered in future Hard Hat Chronicles? Please post a comment below.

The woods are ablaze with fall colors

Such a pretty time of the year!

The trees are brilliant with red, yellow, gold and …

Thunderbird prepares to cross Voyage

Yes, there’s a pop of orange out in the woods by The Voyage this year.

Where exactly? Thunderbird will cross Voyage once right here:

Thunderbird will soon cross The Voyage

As you can see, it’s between the second and third hills on Voyage.

Of course what goes up must come down. Likewise, what crosses over must cross back.

We’ll be sure to show you that, too, when it happens.

Meanwhile, we’re feeling a little loopy after all the rain this week, but it looks like our Thunderbird crews will be busy tomorrow.

Thunderbird's track, crossing The Voyage

Did you know that at 125 feet, Thunderbird’s vertical loop is the tallest on any wing coaster?

It’ll take a 200-ton crane to top it.

Two toppings in two weeks? That’s keeping us right on track with construction.

Did you catch this video from last week’s Immelmann topping?

Kudos to our Thunderbird construction team – lifting that nine-ton piece high in the air and placing it gently right where it was meant to go. Amazing. And right after a big storm (yes, Thunderbird, we know you’re in charge!).

Orange you excited about tomorrow? Follow us on Twitter for updates and be sure to tune in on our live webcams to see all the action.

Which element of Thunderbird are you most eager to experience? Please post a comment and let us know!

The ultimate #TransformationTuesday


Thunderbird's Immelmann loop is now complete! #transformationtuesday #thunderbird #HW2015

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Weather permitted

From before the sun was up this morning, we were all grabbing our phones to check the weather apps.

I even bugged our morning weathermen:

But the #WeatherPermitting phrase continued to haunt us.

Reporters called one after another: Are you still planning to do this?


I dashed between the raindrops to capture this photo. Then the sensible voice in my head out-shouted the excited voice and proclaimed: That 140-foot-tall track is one heck of a lightning rod!

The storm was intense, but didn’t last long.

And then it was time. Swing that beautiful track!

… and the second half of the video:

And then …

We’ll have a new Hard Hat Chronicles to post later today, with lots of footage from the topping.

Thanks to our hard-working Thunderbird Construction teams for making it all look so easy.

A Tuesday Topping for Thunderbird

Been using this hashtag a lot today: #WeatherPermitting

That said, we’re excited about what tomorrow may bring:

We won’t know for sure until tomorrow morning, but a big ol’ piece of track (weighing nearly nine tons) is expected to “top off” Thunderbird’s highest point.

If you can’t watch live on our ThunderbirdCam, please check back here and on our social media later in the day for updates.

Considering that the topping will put into place Track Piece #21 (out of 77), we’re feeling rather lucky that we’ll get to lift it into place on October 7.


Orange you glad we take lots of photos?

Because, you know, just about everybody is wanting to see the latest construction pics of Thunderbird.

A deer visits the construction site

I half expected that a coaster enthusiast (you know who you are!) might have strapped a video cam on Dasher there and sent him in for a DashCam exclusive.

Yes, Thunderbird’s track is heading skyward!

Thunderbird track

We had some fun recently with this trompe l’oeil on Twitter:


And today we posted a brief construction video on our Facebook page:

But right now it’s time for a history lesson.

It’s about the launch into Thunderbird’s first loop.

The Immelmann loop.

Here’s the start:

The beginning of the Immelman loop

When I was first included in those top-secret meetings (aka the Cone of Silence) late last year, those in the know kept listing the elements of BT-15.

Including the Entenmann’s loop.


Remember, I grew up on the East Coast – and to me, Entenmann’s means crumbly, cinnamonny coffee cake.

You know:

Entenmann's coffee cake

Wow. Now we’re talking!

After about the third meeting I similarly interrupted, a quick lesson in military history got me straightened out.

It’s Immelmann, not Entenmann’s.

Thunderbird’s first loop is named for Max Immelmann, a German pilot. A World War 1 flying ace, actually. He is said to have invented this half-loop, half-roll maneuver.

And that is why this first inversion is called an Immelmann. It’s a half-loop, half-roll. No coffee cake involved (although I’d venture to say he enjoyed a good piece of apple strudel more than once).

From Thunderbird’s launch, we’ll fly into our Immelmann.

Thunderbird's launch

The top of the Immelmann is 14 stories up.

From there, the track rolls over toward The Voyage.

The photo below shows where the end piece of the Immelmann loop will connect.

The start - and end - of our Immelmann

Topping a roller coaster is a really big deal.

So what will we do when we get there (sometime next week, we think)? Have a celebration of course!

To start the celebration, we’ve moved the SplashCam and renamed it the ThunderbirdCam. It’s located along the Snowy White Gravel Road and is interactive.

That’s right. Interactive.

Views you can choose. (Surely I’m not the first to come up with that phrase.) Have fun playing with this new toy.

Lauren R. took this view because to her it looked like the track pieces were forming one of our HoliSmiles.

Thunderbird's HoliSmile

We’ve got room for one last Thunderbird photo in this post, with promises of many more to come.

Thunderbird's track

Thunderbird’s track count is 17 out of 77 as of today.

Ain’t it beautiful?