This is the world's first safe vertical-loop water slide

The finished slide will be able to scare 180 people per hourMick Diamond

This article was first published in the July 2015 issue of WIRED magazine. Be the first to read WIRED's articles in print before they're posted online, and get your hands on loads of additional content by subscribing online

This is Sky Caliber: the world's first safe vertical-loop water slide, according to its creators Skyturtle Technologies. Gravity-defying loops have traditionally been seen as too risky, but Canadian designer Lance Fisher, 36, came up with a solution in his sleep. "I realised that being in a vehicle inside the slide lets you do a vertical drop safely."

After a year of virtual 3D simulations, 50 raft designs -- including a terrifying head-first option -- were discarded. "We wanted to make the raft open, like a skeleton frame," says Fisher. Riders are fastened into the capsule with a padded harness, and the mesh outer layer allows them to be soaked by 4,500 litres of water coming through the tube each minute. The whole loop takes about eight seconds and begins with a 27-metre drop (including 14 metres of free fall) to make sure the aluminium raft reaches the 80kph needed to make it over the loop. The tunnel is rifled inside to help the capsule to spin on its axis, like a bullet.

Fisher himself was first to test the prototype. "The feeling of weightlessness was intense, extreme, but awesome," he says. The completed ride is planned to open at New Jersey's Action Park in 2016. Not extreme enough? Don't worry, Fisher is working on increasing the height of the drop. "We want to break the speed record for a water slide," he says. "Being inside a capsule allows us to do things most water slides can't do."