Flying Bob’s Midnight Circus

Raw footage from an afternoon behind the scenes at Flying Bob’s Traveling Amusement Show when it came to a parking lot in Arlington Heights one weekend in 1977.

00:00Copy video clip URL Gray. Videographers talk amongst themselves, preparing for the shoot.

00:14Copy video clip URL Inside a ride operator’s booth at a carnival. The controller is playing Eric Clapton’s song, “Cocaine.” He starts operating the ride called the “Flying Bobs,” a line of cars attached to axles that swing in and out as they rotate in a giant circle. Various b-roll of the ride in action, and of the operator at the controls.

01:40Copy video clip URL The operator announces: “Just hold on to your lids, kids. The ride’s only half over.”

03:55Copy video clip URL The ride ends. The videographer asks the operator how long he’s been doing this. “We just bought this ride this year. We had a swing ride last year … This is the second time it was set up. The first time was 1974. It’s about 4 years now.” He says he’s never operated anything like this before. “I’ve been doing this now for about two weeks.” He explains the operating system: a three-way toggle switch, forward, reverse, rest. He says he operates only 3 or 4 hours at a time. He takes tickets the rest of the time. He says there are two of them who alternate operating the ride.

06:03Copy video clip URL A new group of riders enters the Flying Bobs. The operator prepares to start. B-roll of the riders in their cars. The operator notes that next week they are taking the show to Calumet City. He starts the ride. “It’s your turn to take a ride on Flying Bobs. It’s blast off time!” he says into the microphone. The ride starts. The operator comments periodically to the riders: “I gotta slow you down. But the ride’s only half over. Slow you down so I can turn you around. There it is now, kicking it out! Three hundred and eighty hard RPMs flying at you from behind.” Various b-roll of the operator operating the three toggles.

10:21Copy video clip URL The ride ends. The operator gives final exit instructions.

10:57Copy video clip URL Videogapher cuts. Black.

11:04Copy video clip URL Video starts again. The operator flips through music records, selecting some new music: The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.” He waits for more riders. He tells of having to take a flat tire to a far off truck stop yesterday for repair. When he returned he noticed the inside tire was also flat, so he had to go back, but the place was closed, so he had to find another repair shop. Before this job he was operating bumper cards for two years. He says until they got Flying Bobs, the bumper cars were the best seller. Tilt-a-Whirl was second best seller. Various b-roll of the part, other rides, and people.

15:05Copy video clip URL The operator says after Labor Day they will go to a county fair in Arkansas, then six county fairs in Louisiana. They close down the first week in November. A new group of riders enters. The operator starts the ride. B-roll of the man operating the ride. The operator runs through his routine. Various b-roll of the operator at work. A new group enters and the operator starts the machine again. Various b-roll of the ride. The ride ends, passengers exit.

28:29Copy video clip URL The operator notes the ride cost seventy-five cents to ride.

28:50Copy video clip URL B-roll of Flying Bobs sign. Establishing shot of the ride and the operator in the booth.

30:49Copy video clip URL END



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