The “slingshot” ejection seat ride that malfunctioned in Anchorage, leaving two men hanging 50 feet in the air, is now operating at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer.
In May, a cord on the ride snapped, leaving two men dangling 50 feet in the air for about an hour.
“Eighteen years, I’ve never had an incident, and something like that, to happen was pretty scary,” said Rob Thompson of Thrills Unlimited LLC,, which owns the ride.
The state investigated the incident.
Channel 2 News obtained a copy of the report, which cited seven violations, but a state Department of Labor spokesperson said Thompson made all necessary corrections to get the ride up and running safely.
He credits Anchorage firefighters and the ride’s emergency system for saving the men’s lives.
“We had a mechanical incident and one swivel came loose off the hoist cable and swung to the side,” Thompson said. “The men, thank God they were not hurt very bad. One man had a couple contusions. The pod did what it was supposed to do – save their lives if an incident ever occurred like that.”
Since then, he said he has made improvements to the ride.
“I felt bad,” said Thompson. “It was a terrible day for everybody, but the number one thing is the pod did what it was supposed to do. Those men were OK, and I’ve talked to him, and he’s actually thought about riding again.”
To prevent another malfunction, the state sent inspectors and shut the ride down.
Another inspector from the Lower 48 found additional violations and required seven specific improvements, including proper fastener pins that attach to the ejection seat system, handrails, additional signage, safety barricades and documented training for operators.
The state said those changes have been made and on July 3 gave Thompson the go-ahead to get the ride back up and running.
Thompson said he has ridden the ejection seat several times since then, and has even put his 12-year-old son Jacob on it.
Jacob said he has ridden it “304” times.
The May malfunction hasn’t fazed fairgoer Scott Olson, who said the ejection seat is one of his favorite fair rides.
“I’ve been on it a lot of times,” he said. “It’s a risk you take. It’s worth it. It’s fun.”