Klaus began producing Hurricane rides in 1951, with the initial unit being sold to the German showman Koch. The fifth unit produced (in 1952) was brought into the U.S. and exhibited under the name Roto-Jet at Coney Island (NY) and several fairs in 1953 . The first permanent installation in the U.S. was at Palisades in 1954. Several rides were sold at the end of 1954, and in 1955, the new Roto-Jet was a big hit at Rye Playland. In all, one used ride and twenty new rides were imported from 1953 to 1957.
The Roto Jets/Hurricane may have been a copy of an earlier ride. Essentially identical rides (except for the decorative tower) appear to have been produced by Romolo Fabbri in Italy around 1950 and by George Maxwell & Sons in the UK in 1952. No patent corresponding to this ride has been found.
Klaus produced several units of a lifting version [Vampir] beginning at the end of 1953. In addition to the rider-controlled elevation of the sweeps, the carrier for the sweeps is raised once the ride is in motion. One was imported by Wedemeyer and installed at Disneyland in 1956 (Astro-Jets) [see Note 2]. Wedemeyer advertised these rides for the 1957 season under the name Strato-Jets. Four units were imported in 1956-1957.
An improved lifting version of the ride was introduced by Klaus in 1957 [Titan] and imported by Wedemeyer under the name Satellite Jet. In this version of the ride, the mechanism that elevates the sweeps carrier also tilts the entire tower. A ride of this type was found at Whalom Park until recently. The Satellite at Lakeside Park is another example, but the tilting mechanism no longer operates. Eight Satellite Jets were imported from 1957-1959.
The Satellite Jet/Titan is described by Mathias Haug's US Patent # 2983509 (assigned to Kaspar Klaus). This patent was filed in 1957 and issued in 1961, and cites a German patent application dated 1956.
Further improvements and variations were produced by the Klaus firm, including the Hurricane X (1963) and Mirage (1966). However, Wedemeyer's firm had ceased importing rides, and it does not appear that any of these reached the U.S.
Haug's patent # 3104103 describes an improvement and simplification in which the carrier for the sweeps tilts, but not the tower. In one embodiment, the tower and the orientation of the tilted axis are stationary, while in another embodiment, the tower and tilted axis rotate independently of the main sweep rotation (but at lower speed). This patent was issued in 1963, with both the U.S. and German applications dated 1959.
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2. This ride was replaced by or remodeled into the Rocket Jets in 1967, a ride which was subsequently replaced in 1998 by the Astro Orbiter. [return]