Thursday, July 16, 2015

Dal Freeman - Saved the best for last

Hold onto your... Holy Cow!

Lagoon has recently announced the opening of their newest coaster - Cannibal - which was designed by Arrow alumni Dal Freeman. Unlike many recent coaster designs, Cannibal was engineered and built in-house, with local (Utah) talent.

It starts with a trip up a 208-foot enclosed vertical tower. Next is a past vertical 116 degree push-over leading to a high speed shot thru a themed underground tunnel. Finally are three inversions including a 140-foot-tall (43 m) half-loop twist, a heartline roll, and a diving loop. 

Its 12 seat cabins feature lapbars, which is unusual for an inverting ride path, but Arrow basically invented the corkscrew roller coaster, which uses barrel rolls - a positive g maneuver - to keep you squarely planted in your seat. Cannibal chews thru 2735 feet of track in just over a minute, at speeds up to 70 mph, while pulling as much as 4.2 g's.

Dal joined Arrow in 1986 as the Director of Engineering, overseeing a staff of ten people. The size of his department more than doubled in three years, reflecting the then increasing demand for Arrow's coaster's.

Dal was with Arrow through the 90's, leaving just before X2 and the bankruptcy. He worked on the Pipeline, Magnum XL-200 and Drachen Fire, with Magnum being his favorite. Dal previously worked for Disney on Splash Mountain and was also offered the opportunity to work on either Jaws or Kongfrontation at Universal Studios Florida. He felt that Kongfrontation was more exciting and came up with the idea of using a suspended cable car as the ride vehicle.

Before working for Arrow, Dal worked for Thiokol, which made the Chickadee ski lift at Snowbird. Thiokol also produced a range of other equipment for ski resorts, including snowcats and snow grooming vehicles. Those businesses were spun off in 1978 when the company restructured itself to concentrate on its rocket motors and related technologies. Their snowcats were used in ski resorts, operated by the USAF in Alaska, and are now popular with private owners for all terrain transport.

At Lagoon, Dal's  first project was Wild Mouse. He worked on every Lagoon ride since; Spider, Samurai, Rocket, Rattlesnake Rapids, The Bat, Wicked, OdySea, Jumping Dragon and Bombora.

Dal's love for equipment started at a very early age, growing up on a farm in the Salt Lake Valley. He was driving a tractor by age five. Using and maintaining farm machinery instilled a curiosity to understand how things worked and what had to be done to fix them. That laid the foundation for pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Utah. He also held Engineer Land Surveyor and Professional Structural Engineer licenses.

One of the things Dal truly enjoyed about working at Arrow was the opportunity to interact with the customers. From the time a new project began, he was interfacing with manufacturing during construction, consulting during field installation and test check-out and start-up of each new ride. No two projects were exactly alike and Dal enjoyed the unique challenges that each instillation brought.

He apparently saved the best for last, as Dal announced his retirement mid July 2015.

Dal Freeman by Wicked

1 comment:

  1. Cool! Didn't know he worked for Disney or on Splash Mountain.