One of only three Vekoma Flying Dutchman coasters in existence, Nighthawk at Carowinds offers an experience that will be novel to anyone who has never ridden a coaster of this design.

 After riders are heavily restrained and the train is tilted backwards, the ride is dispatched and the train makes a left turn out of the loading station before ascending a 115-foot lift hill with the riders flat on their backs.  At the top is a twist which rotates the riders from a “Lie to Fly” position to a “Fly to Lie” position so that they are prone.  The train drops 103 feet and sends riders through a horseshoe curve.  Back in the “Fly to Lie” position, riders are propelled through a 66-foot vertical loop and flipped over into the “Lie to Fly”position before being catapulted through two corkscrews.  From there it’s back to the “Fly to Lie” position and riders return to the loading station the same way they left it, in a supine position.

 I found this ride immensely entertaining at the same time that I found the headrests to be uncomfortable.  Other than that there was no discomfort except for what the ride is designed to make you feel – i.e., vulnerable when in the flying position because you feel as if you’re going to pitch forward.  The vertical loop and corkscrews were clearly the highlights of the ride.  And I personally find it highly enjoyable to go up the lift hill on my back.

 Nighthawk is an unusual and exciting ride.  4 out of 5 stars.  For more information about rides at Carowinds, visit