Previously known as Stealth (2000–2003), Borg Assimilator (2004–2007)
Nighthawk entrance sign.jpg
Park sectionCelebration Plaza
Coordinates35°06′10″N 80°56′30″W / 35.10278°N 80.94167°W / 35.10278; -80.94167Coordinates: 35°06′10″N 80°56′30″W / 35.10278°N 80.94167°W / 35.10278; -80.94167
Opening dateMarch 20, 2004 (2004-03-20)
ReplacedCarolina Sternwheeler Riverboat
California's Great America
Coordinates37°23′46″N 121°58′14″W / 37.396166°N 121.970476°W / 37.396166; -121.970476
Opening dateApril 1, 2000 (2000-04-01)
Closing dateSeptember 2, 2003 (2003-09-02)
ReplacedYankee Clipper
Replaced bySouth Bay Shores
General statistics
TypeSteel – Flying
ModelFlying Dutchman
Lift/launch systemChain lift hill
Height115 ft (35 m)
Drop103 ft (31 m)
Length2,766 ft (843 m)
Speed51 mph (82 km/h)
Max vertical angle53°
Capacity1000 (Currently 192) riders per hour
Height restriction54–81 in (137–206 cm)
Trains2 trains with 6 cars. Riders are arranged 4 across in a single row for a total of 24 riders per train.
Fast Lane available
Nighthawk at RCDB
Pictures of Nighthawk at RCDB

Nighthawk is a steel flying roller coaster from Vekoma located at Carowinds amusement park. The roller coaster is located in the Celebration Plaza section of the park. The roller coaster originally opened as Stealth at California's Great America on April 1, 2000. In 2003, Paramount Parks decided to relocate the roller coaster to Carowinds. It reopened as Borg Assimilator – the first coaster in the world to be themed to Star Trek – on March 20, 2004. After Cedar Fair purchased Carowinds in 2006, Paramount themes were soon removed from the park, and the ride was renamed Nighthawk. It is one of only two Flying Dutchman models still in existence from Vekoma.


California's Great America (2000–2003)

Nighthawk when it was known as Stealth at California's Great America.
Nighthawk when it was known as Stealth at California's Great America.

On June 22, 1999, California's Great America announced Stealth as "the world's first true flying coaster."[1] For Stealth to be installed, the lower flume of Logger's Run had to be altered and the Yankee Clipper had to be removed.[2] The ride officially opened to the public on April 1, 2000.[3][4]

Stealth faced many issues during its run in California. The most notable of these was the electrical box, which monitored the restraints and locking devices that allowed the cars to raise and lower. It was placed on each train instead of being located in the electrical room. This created stress on the ride vehicles and components.[5]

On August 21, 2003, the park announced that Stealth would close on September 1 to make room for a new water park, Boomerang Bay (now known as South Bay Shores).[6] The station is still located in the water park today as the queue for the water slides (Coastal Cruz, NorCal Wipeout, and Mission Falls).

Carowinds (2004–present)

In 1984, Carowinds added Smurf Island, which was a children's play area located on the 1.3-acre (5,300 m2) island surrounded by the Carolina Sternwheeler. In the 1990s, Smurf Island was eventually closed and later demolished to make space for a new ride.[7]

On August 21, 2003, Carowinds announced a new flying roller coaster that would be relocated from California's Great America.[8] The ride's name was not announced at the time. On January 15, 2004, it was announced the new roller coaster would be named Borg Assimilator and would be the first Star Trek themed roller coaster.[9][10] Regarding the design of the attraction, Dale Kaetzel, Vice President of marketing and Assistant General Manager, said:[10]

Borg Assimilator gives our guests a unique opportunity – to experience the sensations of free flight without the traditional boundaries of a roller coaster. As you look out over the park, you get a virtually unobstructed view of the landscape and you are continually surprised at where the experience takes you.

Nighthawk subsequently replaced the Carolina Sternwheeler Riverboat, a paddle boat ride that took riders around the seven themed areas of the park.[11] Some modifications were made to the ride prior to opening. Park engineers worked out the prototype bugs and the electrical box was redesigned.[5] It officially opened to the public on March 20, 2004.[12]

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company purchased Carowinds in 2006 and was offered to use the rights of all Paramount properties for ten years at a nominal fee. The Cedar Fair Entertainment Company declined and renamed all Paramount-branded roller coasters, including Borg Assimilator.[13] In 2008, the park renamed several attractions including Borg Assimilator. It was renamed to Nighthawk and the Star Trek theming was removed, including the black sphere that was in the pond underneath the ride.[14] In 2009, Nighthawk was painted with dark blue supports and yellow track.[13]

Ride experience


Nighthawk when it was known as Borg Assimilator.
Nighthawk when it was known as Borg Assimilator.

The steel track is approximately 2,766 feet (843 m) in length and the height of the lift is approximately 115 feet (35 m).[12] While at California's Great America, the track was painted red and white with steel gray supports. When the ride was relocated to Carowinds, the track was repainted black and green and the supports remained gray. After the name was changed in 2008, the ride was once again repainted with yellow track and blue supports.[13]

Nighthawk has a total of five inversions. It features one vertical loop, a double corkscrew, two "Lie to Fly" and two "Fly to Lie" elements. Each "Lie to Fly" and "Fly to Lie" element is counted as a half inversion.[15][16] A "Lie to Fly" element is when riders are on their backs, facing the sky and they are flipped and face the ground.[17] A "Fly to Lie" element is the opposite.


Once riders are seated and restrained, the train tilts backwards into a 'lay-down' position and is dispatched. The train travels backwards out of the station, turns left and travels up the 115-foot (35 m) lift hill. Once the train reaches the top of the lift hill, it dips down into a twist (called a "Lie-to-Fly") that turns the trains upside down into a flying position where riders face the ground. After the twist, the train travels down the first drop, reaching speeds of 51 mph (82 km/h). Riders then go through an over banked Horseshoe Curve element. Following the Horseshoe, the train enters a "Fly-to-Lie" element that turns riders back to a lay-down position. After the banked turn, the ride enters the 66-foot (20 m) tall vertical loop, where riders experience 4.3 G's. The train then goes into another "Lie-to-Fly" element. Following the loop, riders go through another turn into the final "Fly-to-Lie" element before entering two consecutive corkscrews before making a right turn onto the brake run.[18]


Nighthawk when it was known as Borg Assimilator in the double corkscrew. (Parts of the theming can be seen)
Nighthawk when it was known as Borg Assimilator in the double corkscrew. (Parts of the theming can be seen)

While the ride was located at Paramount's Great America, there was no theme for the ride. When it was relocated to Carowinds in 2004, it was built as the first Star Trek themed roller coaster in the world. It was renamed Borg Assimilator and the story was that "Borg crash-landed in the middle of Carowinds and their ship – a giant gray and black sphere – has come to rest near the park's new flying roller coaster."[10] There was a gray and black sphere located in the pond underneath the ride that the Borg crashed in. In addition to other theming, a voice was played surrounding the ride saying Borg quotes.[19] After Cedar Fair bought the park, all the Star Trek theming was removed and the name was changed for the 2008 season.[14]


Nighthawk currently operates with two trains. Each train has six cars that have four seats in a single row for a total of 24 riders.[12] Riders are restrained by an over the shoulder restraint and a lap bar. Riders can put on the over the shoulder restraint but a ride operator will push down the lap bar.[20] While in the station, the trains will recline back to the laying down position.[20]


Main article: Incidents at Cedar Fair parks

On March 17, 2007, seven employees received minor injuries when their seats changed position during a test run of the roller coaster. An inspection discovered that the ride operator accidentally pushed a button controlling the seat positions while the ride was in motion. That button was later modified to only work when the ride is stopped.[21][22]

See also


  1. ^ "Paramount's Great America Unveils "Project Stealth" World's First True Flying Coaster For 2000". Ultimate Roller Coaster. June 22, 1999. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  2. ^ "Great America parks – Logger's Run". Great America Parks. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  3. ^ Marden, Duane. "Stealth  (Paramount's Great America)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  4. ^ "Lost Coasters of California - Part 9: Stealth - The Coaster Kings".
  5. ^ a b Wooley, Eric (November 25, 2020). "20 in 2020: Stealth at California's Great America". Coaster101. Retrieved May 23, 2021.
  6. ^ "Stealth Roller Coaster To Close After Only 3 Years". Ultimate Roller Coaster. August 21, 2003. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  7. ^ Scott Rutherford (2013). Carowinds. ISBN 9781467120036. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  8. ^ "Carowinds to Add First Flying Roller Coaster in 2004". Ultimate Roller Coaster. August 21, 2003. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  9. ^ "Paramount's Carowinds announces name of new coaster". Coaster-Net. January 15, 2004. Archived from the original on December 19, 2011. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  10. ^ a b c "Paramount's Carowinds "Boldly Goes Where No One Has Gone Before"™ with Borg Assimilator™". Roller Coaster DataBase. January 15, 2004. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  11. ^ "Carolina Sternwheeler Riverboat". Carowinds Early Years. Retrieved November 11, 2012.
  12. ^ a b c Marden, Duane. "Nighthawk  (Carowinds)". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  13. ^ a b c "Nighthawk at Coaster-Net". Coaster-Net. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  14. ^ a b O'Daniel, Adam (March 29, 2008). "Carowinds slashing season ticket prices". The Herald. Archived from the original on November 3, 2013. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  15. ^ Marden, Duane. "Lie to Fly". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  16. ^ Marden, Duane. "Fly to Lie". Roller Coaster DataBase.
  17. ^ "Flying Coasters". Coaster Force. Archived from the original on March 24, 2013. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  18. ^ "Nighthawk POV". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-14.
  19. ^ "Nighthawk (formerly Borg Assimilar) at Theme Park Sushi". Theme Park Sushi. Retrieved November 12, 2012.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ a b "Stealth (ACN Review)". America Coasters. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  21. ^ "Ride Malfunction At Carowinds Blamed On Human Error". WSOC-TV. March 20, 2007. Archived from the original on August 7, 2012. Retrieved March 23, 2007.
  22. ^ "Carowinds employees injured in roller coaster test". March 18, 2007. Retrieved March 22, 2016.