It was tucked into the woods, barely visible from the main path that November day I visited the remains of Chippewa Lake Park’s Flying Cages. The truth is, I was really there to see the kiddie coaster which was on the other side of the path when I caught a glimpse of a rusty ride skeleton peaking through the trees.

This four cage version of the Flying Cages once operated at Chippewa Lake Park in Ohio.

I had never encountered anything quite like it before. There were four places where it appeared something else had been at one time. Large counter weights on the sides still moved freely despite decades of rust. I walked all around the former ride, completely mystified. I documented it both through pictures and video, but it wasn’t until later when I started researching what I had seen did I realize what it was. It turns out that among the ruins of the former amusement park stood one of the last remaining examples of a Flying Cages ride.

History of the Flying Cages

Also known as Flying Swings or Swingin’ Gym, this ride became popular in the 1960s with hundreds of examples around the country. Most installations involved between two and six cages in a row. The ride was completely powered by the rider, who shifted their weight back and forth to get the cage swinging. The goal was for it to make a complete loop. At that point, the rider would keep shifting their weight just right to get the cage going faster and faster.

Here is an example of a Flying Cages ride which was located in Seaside Heights, NJ. This model had 8 side-by-side cages, twice the size of the one I found.

The problem was that sometimes riders who weren’t as familiar with the ride would get thrown about the cage while it was still in motion. This caused broken bones, chipped teeth, and more than a few black eyes. Eventually the ride had developed such a reputation for injuries that the Flying Cages became all but impossible to insure. This led to the ride all but vanishing from the amusement park scene.

At Chippewa Lake Park

The version at Chippewa Lake Park consisted of four cages, side-by-side. The park closed in 1978 with the Flying Cages still operational, but the ride was on its downswing (no pun intended) in popularity nationally by that point.

The actual cages themselves that would make the rotations are long gone. Perhaps they were sold as parts for another ride or perhaps it was scrapped like so many other parts of the park. Now its rusty frame stands hidden in the woods. The counter-balances remain, more than likely too cumbersome to scrap.

Rusted counter-weights still remain attached to the hulking metal frame of the ride. Surprisingly, they still swing freely.

There are, however, a few remaining examples of the Flying Cages ride still remaining, mainly in amusement park museums or private collections.

The Flying Cages ride is slowly being reclaimed by nature.

For now, the silent remains of the Flying Cages still remains at the former Chippewa Lake Park. However, plans are in the works to convert the former amusement park into a county park, complete with a boat launch and hiking trails. While some former ride skeletons such as the Ferris Wheel and Tumble Bug are hopefully being incorporated into the new plan, it is unclear if plans include the preservation of the remains to this unique, yet short lived, ride.

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