Dec 10, 2006

Behind the scenes: Pyrotechnics in Atlanta

To make each Thrashers game Atlanta's hottest experience on ice, Rick Lambright and Andy Ulanowski bring the fire.

The brothers-in-law operate the high-flying twin bird heads that spew 20-foot flames during introductions, after every Thrashers goal and whenever the NHL's rules allow them to fire up the crowd. They are also in charge of this year's new pyrotechnic effects at Hawks games.


Before each game, Lambright and Ulanowski take a tank of propane to the catwalk 135 feet above the Philips Arena floor to refuel the accumulator, which pressurizes the gas. They also check and recheck the equipment for gas leaks.

For Thrashers games, they use a chain motor to lower the birds from their "nesting" position in the rafters to a place about 80 feet off the floor and about 10 feet above the scoreclock. The birds are 14 feet long and weigh 350 pounds apiece.


When the lights go down, a right turn of a silver key arms the system. Flipping the switch for "beak open," the birds' eyes begin pulsating with a red light. As the mouth drops open, so do the mouths of some spectators.

The blasts are synchronized with the announcer — for example, "Ilya Ko-val-CHUK," the final syllable being the cue for the flame — or with the horn sounding after a goal.

Two red buttons on the console fire the birds. Lambright said "each has a different personality" in terms of better flame at various temperatures. When the propane hits a 10,000-watt spark, it ignites.

The best burst is about two seconds.

"We toast the nose if we let the flame on too long," Lambright said.

Read the full article...

(via Kukla's Korner)

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