5 Adventures That'll Make Your Stomach Drop

Roller Coasters

What's missing from this list? That's an easy one: roller coasters. Wheeled versions of this thrill ride have been around since the late 1700s, when a track with gently sloping hills was constructed in St. Petersburg, Russia. But it was the introduction of tubular steel tracks in 1959 that made it possible for cars to flip upside down, shoot through corkscrews and rocket straight up and down again [source: Carnegie Magazine]. In other words, this technological advancement turned roller coasters into the gut-wrenching amusement park rides we all know and (some of us) love.

So, which coaster is the biggest and baddest around? A good contender for this title is the Kingda Ka at the Six Flags Great Adventure theme park in Jackson, N.J.; it's the tallest and the second fastest roller coaster in the world. Here's the kind of ride you can expect: First, you're thrust forward down a horizontal track, going from 0 to a blistering speed of 128 miles per hour (206 kilometers per hour) in just 3.5 seconds. You then take an abrupt 90-degree turn upward, rocketing to a height of 465 feet (139 meters) before immediately plummeting 418 feet (127 meters) in a 270-degree spiral. Once horizontal again, you blaze across a 129-foot (39-meter) hump on which you briefly experience weightlessness. Finally, you roll to a stop at the end of the 3,118-foot (950-meter) track just 59 seconds after you started [source: Six Flags]. If that doesn't make your stomach drop, then nothing will!

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