Anticipate This!™ | Patent and Trademark Law Blog

They Invented What? (No. 37)

Posted in They Invented What? by Jake Ward on February 28, 2007

U.S. Pat. No. 5,769,724: Human free-flight catapult.

JW Note:  Reference numeral 7 in the below figure points to the “human rider.”  I’ll stick with roller coasters, thank you.



An amusement ride for catapulting a human rider, enclosed within a capsule, into the air in much the same fashion as ancient armies would hurl large boulders over the walls of castles. The ride provides many of the sensations and thrills encountered by fighter pilots launching from the decks of aircraft carriers without the requirement for flight training or the associated dangers. The ride essentially consists of a siege type catapult and a releasably connected launch pod. When in the launch position, a release mechanism is triggered by the operator and the rider is catapulted into the air at a physiologically safe rate of acceleration along a predictable free-flight arc. When an acceptable elevation is reached, the rider is separated from the capsule and gently brought back to earth using an automatically deploying parachute or similar device. An alternate embodiment envisions the use of a similar device to project a conveyance vehicle along a horizontal track similar to a stone skipping across the water.


1. A catapult amusement ride comprising:
          a base divided into a drive support area at a first end, a conveyance support area at a second opposite end, and a pivot post support area located between said first and second ends;
          a pivot post having a first end attached to said base;
          a lever beam rotatably attached to said pivot post at a distal second end;
          an attachment point between said pivot post and said lever beam which divides said lever beam into a drive segment and a conveyance segment;
          a plurality of bungee/shock cords attached between the drive segment of said lever and the drive support area of said base;
          a conveyance vehicle attached to the end of said conveyance segment and resting on the said conveyance support area of said base during a pre-launch configuration;
          a triggered locking assembly attached to said base between said pivot post support area and said conveyance support area of said base;
          wherein when said lever device is held by said trigger locking assembly and, upon release of said lever by said trigger locking assembly, said bungee/shock cords pull on said drive segment of said lever causing said conveyance vehicle to be projected into the air by said conveyance segment along a predictable trajectory.

2. A catapult amusement ride as set forth in claim 1, wherein said base is the flatbed trailer of a truck.

3. A catapult amusement ride as set forth in claim 1, wherein said conveyance vehicle will accommodate one or more passengers.

4. A catapult amusement ride as set forth in claim 1, wherein said conveyance vehicle will accommodate two passengers.