The first 106-foot hill of Silverwood Theme Park’s first new roller coaster in more than a decade is absurdly steep.
Stunt Pilot doesn’t let up from there.
“We design it to be action-packed all the way through,” said Fred Grubb, founder of Rocky Mountain Construction, which built the new ride. “You never get a break.”
The ride is the third of its kind in the world. Known as a single-rail Raptor coaster, Stunt Pilot takes a single-line train of 10 on a 60-second, breakneck tour intended to mimic the air shows that once filled the skies above the North Idaho amusement park.
The ride opens to the public Saturday at a ribbon-cutting, when 10 charity bidders will receive the first public spin on the attraction that’s the product of good timing, said Silverwood owner Gary Norton.
“We were very lucky that everything worked out,” said Norton, who watched as members of the media took turns on the coaster Thursday morning. “The bad year last year, the pandemic, caused (Grubb) to actually almost shut down. He was going to have to lay everyone off. I said, I’ll tell you what, I’ll take a chance that we’re going to come out of this, and I’ll buy one.”
Rocky Mountain Construction designed and built Stunt Pilot, which is the sister coaster of a ride at California’s Great America in Santa Clara known as RailBlazer. The park designed the theme, which will pay tribute to Silverwood’s past and one of its original stunt pilots, Bob Heale, who died in a crash at Fairchild in 1996.
Stunt Pilot uses the traditional chain method of pulling the train up a hill. You get a view of the entire park, including the other coasters Grubb helped build for Silverwood: Timber Terror, Tremors and Aftershock, which was the park’s last new coaster to open, in 2008. Then it’s straight into the first hill on a single rail, reaching a top speed of 52 mph followed by three inversions and “air time,” the feeling of rising up out of your seat as you twist and turn along the spaghetti-looking track.
Grubb stood along the train line Thursday morning, conferring with his workers and even hopping on for the first ride of the day himself.
“It’s everything we thought it would be,” he said.
The charity auction ahead of the ride’s opening Saturday morning raised $3,944 for the Children’s Village, a home for abused and neglected children in Coeur d’Alene. Riders got to bid on specific cars in the train, with the highest bid – $690 – for the front-row seat.
That rider will find themselves twisted and turned upside down, with a feeling of weightlessness and also barrel rolls provided by the coaster’s design. Rings line certain spots of the track, and the souvenir photo booth is located inside an imitation barn, to hearken back to the “barnstorming” maneuvers of previous generations of stunt pilots.
“It’s just really, really nice to get a new RMC coaster,” Norton said. “I’ve wanted one of these since they came out.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony comes complete with aerial performers, according to parks communication staff. Silverwood will open Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and will be open throughout Memorial Day weekend. Boulder Beach water park will also be open on weekends through June 13, when both parks open for their summer schedules, seven days a week.
The park is located 19 miles north of Coeur d’Alene on U.S. Highway 95.