Posts Tagged ‘Madagascar Institute’

In the early 20th century, Brooklyn was home to master carousel builders and carvers Charles Looff on Bedford Avenue, MC Illions and Sons Carousell Works on Ocean Parkway, and Stein & Goldstein and William F Mangels in Coney Island. Alas, the golden age of the carousel ended in the 1920s. It was news to us that anyone was building carnival rides in Brooklyn in the 21st century, much less a jet-powered merry-go-round! We first learned about “Jet Ponies” this week when Hackett, the founder of the Gowanus-based Madagascar Institute and the ride’s inventor, gave a talk at Pete’s Candy Store in Williamsburg. If you missed “FIRE IT UP: The Secrets of Backyard Jet Propulsion w/Hackett,” take a look at these vids…

Here’s the homemade carousel in its fiery glory at a 3 am test run in September 2009. The vid was shot in the backyard of a crew member.

The jet-powered merry-go-round had its inaugural spin with human riders the very next day at Gadgetoff 2009, a festival at Snug Harbor in Staten Island. A representative from Popular Mechanics volunteered to be one of the first riders. The ride operators use a leaf blower and a blowtorch to ignite the pulse-jet engines. BOOM! One YouTube commenter says, “You guys are frigging nuts. You used two ‘pulse-jets’ to make a merry-go-round. You get two thumbs up just for not killing yourselves.” But another commenter says, “This demonstrates what we can do when we put our minds and our scavenging abilities to work. What a great ride. When will it show up in the traveling carnivals? I know my kids will clamor for a ride or three.”

Hackett is an expert on valveless pulse-jet engines who has built a jet-powered bike, a jet-powered fish and is working on a jet pack. In an interview with The Faster Times, he says…

The motive power behind the Jet Ponies are pulse jet engines (more specifically: Valveless pulse jet engines, more more specifically: Hiller- Lockwood patent Valveless Pulse Jets). We did not invent them- the concept has been around for maybe a hundred years. They heyday of pulse jets was in the 1940s, when they provided the thrust that threw V1 rockets up from Holland, into gravity’s rainbow, and down onto England….

I do not know of any jet-powered carnival rides that were not built by us, and I feel that if they did exist, I would have heard about it. My hope is that some smartass punk nerd kids somewhere see the video on YouTube and say to themselves “I can do better than that,” and then do.

“Jet Ponies” is an art project of the Madagascar Institute, an “art combine” who create large-scale sculptures and rides, live performances, and guerilla art events. The carousel’s most recent appearance was at 2009 NYC Burning Man Decompression at Aviator Sports/Floyd Bennett Field. Any chance Jet Ponies will show up in Coney Island? As soon as we hear back from Hackett, we’ll let you know.


Related posts on ATZ…

February 15, 2010: Steeplechase Express: Will Zamperla MotoCoaster Pony Up for Coney Island?

January 14, 2010: Zamperla Ride-O-Rama: Rock the Disko Music Video

November 7, 2009: Thru Dec 31 at Coney Island Library: Artist Takeshi Yamada’s Cabinet of Curiosities

October 10, 2009: Traveler: Carnival Rides as Public Art at Toronto’s Nuit Blanche

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