Whirlpool Aero Car
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|Whirlpool Aero Car|
|City||Niagara Falls, Ontario|
|Operated by||Niagara Parks Commission|
|Type||multi-cable aerial tramway|
|Vertical distance||250 feet (76 m)|
|Horizontal distance||1,770 feet (540 m)|
|Duration of one-way trip||10 minutes|
|Maximum speed||7.8 feet per second (2.4 m/s)|
|Number of cars||1 (plus 1 rescue car)|
|Passenger capacity||35 (4 on rescue car)|
|Daily round trips (passengers)||~21 (10am-5pm)|
|Began service||August 8, 1916|
|Tramway manufacturer||Niagara Spanish Aero Car Company Limited / Leonardo Torres Quevedo|
|Official website||Whirlpool Aero Car|
The Whirlpool Aero Car or Spanish Aero Car is a cable car located in Niagara Falls, Ontario that transports passengers over a section of the Niagara River referred to as the Niagara Whirlpool. The system was designed by Spanish engineer Leonardo Torres Quevedo and has been upgraded several times since 1916 (in 1961, 1967 and 1984). The system uses one car that carries 35 standing passengers over a one-kilometre trip.
The Aero Car is suspended on six interlocking steel cables, each of which is 25 mm (0.98 in) in diameter. The car is powered by an electric 50 horsepower (37 kW) motor and travels at approximately 7 km/h (4.3 mph). In the event of a power failure, a diesel engine drives a hydraulic pump to pull the carrier back to the loading/unloading terminal. It also has a rescue car which holds four passengers and one operator. The rescue car has so far only been used for training purposes.
The Aero Car is suspended between two Canadian points, though it crosses the Canadian and American borders four times on a full trip. The car crosses the border about 500 feet (150 m) from the starting point and runs through United States territory for about 200 feet (61 m), but riders need no immigration clearance. At each end of the crossing, it is 240 feet (73 m) high, and in the centre, it is 200 feet (61 m) above the river. Its span is 1,770 feet (540 m). The rapids entering the whirlpool below the Aero Car move at an estimated 35 to 37 km/h (22 to 23 mph), and the flow of the water coming through the river is about 2,800 cubic meters per second (623,000 imperial gallons per second) in the summer months, and 1,400 m³/s (300,000 imp gal/s) in the winter months. From the Aero Car, sightseers can see Whirlpool State Park in Niagara Falls, New York, as well as the Robert Moses Niagara Hydroelectric Power Station in Lewiston, New York. From the side or centre of the car, one can view the violent motion of the 60 acres (0.24 km2) whirlpool below. Riders may also see hikers on nature trails and fishermen on both sides of the river.
The car was originally open, but a roof has been added to all later designs. A four-person rescue car is available (a smaller white car stored at the opposite end in an indoor area), but not used in regular service.
The car operates from 10am to 5pm from the second week of March to the first week of November. It is closed during most of the winter because of ice and snow.
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