Sky HookRide Retrospective
One of Six Flags over Texas’ oddest and most unique past attractions was the Sky Hook. Part elevator and part observation tower, the Sky Hook took guests up 155 feet in the air in what can best be described as large bird cages. Although it operated at Six Flags over Texas from 1963 to 1968, the Sky Hook’s history stretches far before and after those dates.
The history of the Sky Hook started long before it was introduced to Six Flags over Texas along with the Boomtown section in 1963. The ride’s structure was actually created in 1910 and used as a cargo crane. Later the ride structure was converted into an amusement attraction for the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels, Belgium. Park creator Angus Wynne visited the fair and recalled the ride several years later when the Boomtown area was in its planning stages. After tracking the Sky Hook down and purchasing it, Six Flags over Texas re-constructed the ride and installed a large sign advertising the park. Wynne’s plan was to use the tall ride to construct a memorable skyline for the park.
|Ride Type:||Observation ride|
|Attraction Location Currently Occupied By:||Mini Mine Train|
Ride Experience and Operation
Up to 14 guests would load inside the metal cage and sit on a bench surrounding the perimeter. The cage would slowly rise and pause halfway up the climb, rotating 180 degrees before making its final climb to the top. As one side’s passengers sat 155 feet in the air, the other side’s cage would be loading a new set of riders. The Sky Hook was essentially an industrial crane transformed into a glorified elevator.
Operating the Sky Hook was more challenging than one might guess. Employees had to access the elevated control room from a 60-foot ladder, where each cage’s operation was completely manual. The cages did not have brakes and instead relied on friction in the pulleys and motors to slow and eventually stop, meaning that operators had to time cutting the motors’ power perfectly. Incorrectly timing the cage’s descent could have resulted in the cage falling into a queue line area. Workers in the queue line would wildly wave their arms to signal the operator to cut the power and stop the cage. Sky Hook workers were closer to crane operators than ride operators, which made sense given the ride’s original purpose.
Perhaps the only job trickier than operating the Sky Hook was maintaining it. Maintenance technicians would have to scale the main tower and then each arm of the tower to lubricate the pulleys three times a week.
Skyhook’s Removal and Later Lives
Six Flags over Texas decided to remove the Sky Hook at the end of the 1968 season for several reasons. For one, the park had planned to build a true observation tower for the 1969 season, the Oil Derrick. The Sky Hook’s low capacity and slow cycle time simply couldn’t compare to the throughput of the Oil Derrick, not to mention the Derrick’s height doubled that of Sky Hook’s. The overwhelming popularity of the Mine Train also contributed to the Sky Hook’s removal. The Sky Hook’s location adjacent to the original Mine Train presented the ideal location for the Mini version and after the Sky Hook’s removal, the Mini Mine Train was built in its place.
When Six Flags over Texas removed the Sky Hook, its legacy did not end there. The ride was first transported to Six Flags over Georgia where it operated for a number of seasons. Later a small park in Arkansas named Magic Springs purchased Sky Hook and operated it operated for several more years. As the ride slowly deteriorated, Magic Springs used the structure as a bungee-jumping platform before eventually tearing it down sometime around 1995. The Sky Hook’s journey finally ended when it was sold as scrap metal, too corroded to continue to safely operate as an amusement ride.
Although the Oil Derrick literally and figuratively overshadowed the Sky Hook and quickly became the park’s new signature skyline item, it could not outshine the Sky Hook’s uniqueness and expansive history. Those who journeyed over 150 feet in the air surrounded only by a minimalist cage and suspended by a thin cable are not likely to ever forget the incomparable experience the Sky Hook provided.
- McCown, Davis. “Sky Hook.” Parktimes. Web. 03 July 2012. http://parktimes.com/content/node/52.
- Skinner, Clint. Six Flags over Texas: 50 Years of Entertainment. Print.
All Sky Hook photos are copyright their respective, original owners. No claim to ownership is implied through this fair-use article.