Manufacturer: Bradley & Kaye
Model Type: Barnstormer
Maximum Height: 100 feet
Maximum Drop: 50 feet
Manufactured by Bradley & Kaye of Long Beach, Ca. Barnstormer was a revolutionary ride, decades ahead of its time. A circular ride, with a 100' foot tower, riders would board one of 12 biplane shaped cars, that would be raised into the air, circle the tower, but then also be capable of up to 50-foot dives, creating an incredibly thrilling ride. In total, there were three Barnstormer rides ever built by Bradley & Kaye, the first one was built for Old Chicago amusement park and was the prototype. Worlds of Fun's and Opryland's versions both opened in 1978, with Opryland's being by far the most successful operating until the park closed in 1997.
Being such a technologically complicated ride it didn't take long for it to run into a roadblock, on June 30, 1978 just a few short months after it first opened Barnstormer's hydraulic lift mechanism malfunctioned, causing several of the bi-planes to collide, and spraying hydraulic fluid halfway across the park. Though no one was seriously injured in the incident, Barnstormer never again operated with its signature 50-foot drops, and ironically the park posted the crashed barnstormer plane at the entrance to the ride for its five additional operational seasons at the park.
Barnstormer would be found to be frequently non-operational due to high winds over the next few years and by June 1983 the decision was made to remove it from the park. The park General Manager at the time, David Busch was quoted stating that the ride was to be put in storage and might be modified and placed in a less windy area of the park, but as we now know that never ended up happening. Fascinatingly enough, though lacking the aeronautically thrilling dives the modern SteelHawk ride at Worlds of Fun is a direct descendant of Barnstormer and still meets with the same wind-related issues as Barnstormer did three decades prior. Barnstormer itself would be replaced by a local circus act for the remaining portion of the 1983 season, and then be replaced by the Octopus, renamed Tailspinner for the 1984 season.