Delta Flyer / Eagle’s Flight

An original 1976 Marriott’s GREAT AMERICA ride, Delta Flyer / Eagle’s Flight is a single attraction with two names. Offering one-way trips between Orleans Place and County Fair via gondolas suspended from a cable, the ride is named Delta Flyer at its station in Orleans Place and Eagle’s Flight at its station in County Fair. A ride on Delta Flyer / Eagle’s Flight offers park visitors a smooth and quiet trip between the front and back of the park while affording them fascinating aerial views of the park below and the surrounding area. Delta Flyer / Eagle’s Flight doubles as both an attraction and a means of in-park transportation.

Delta Flyer / Eagle’s Flight was manufactured by Von Roll of Berne, Switzerland. The Eagle’s Flight station is the drive station, with the motor used to drive the cable. The Delta Flyer station is the tension station, with a large, sunken counterweight used to keep the cable taut. Five towers support the cable above the park. They are numbered from one through five, starting with the tower nearest to the Eagle’s Flight drive station. The passenger cabins, or gondolas, are detached from the cable inside the stations to facilitate passenger loading and unloading while the cable remains in motion.

Both the Gurnee and Santa Clara rides could run up to a maximum of forty-two cabins. At Gurnee, cabins numbered one through twenty-one were red. Cabins twenty-two through forty-two were blue. The original numbering and color combinations at Santa Clara were not the same, although the actual color schemes were the same: the cabins were either blue or red with white numbers and white roofs. Later, the circular GREAT AMERICA logo was added to the door and the opposite side of each cabin. This was done earlier at Santa Clara than at Gurnee. In its final seasons at Gurnee, cabins were painted in a wider variety of colors.

In 1977, a taller, second skyride — the Southern Cross — was added to Gurnee. The Southern Cross crossed over the Delta Flyer / Eagle’s Flight. This is shown in the Delta Flyer / Eagle’s Flight photo album. The Southern Cross was never added to Santa Clara.

At the end of 1984, the Delta Flyer / Eagle’s Flight was removed from Gurnee. Southern Cross had already been taken out by then. Some of the towers were left in place for use as light poles. The tops of these towers were cut off and floodlights were installed as a stark mutation of what was once a skyride. The Eagle’s Flight station was converted into a funnel cake shop. Thankfully, at Santa Clara, the Delta Flyer / Eagle’s Flight remains in service. The Santa Clara ride has benefited from numerous safety upgrades, physical refurbishments, and other improvements over the years.

Orleans Place (Delta Flyer); County Fair (Eagle’s Flight)
Final season:
Gurnee: 1984; Santa Clara: still operating

Go to the Delta Flyer / Eagle’s Flight photo

See the Delta Flyer / Eagle’s Flight in action in this 1979 Gurnee video..