Happiness! It's what we do.

Niagara Parks Whirlpool Aero Car

Niagara Parks Whirlpool Aero Car

Niagara Falls is a constantly evolving magnet for tourists and families looking for a little escape.

Pretty much everything you could want, from relaxation to excitement, thrills and chills, it is all here. And if you don’t find it now, check back soon – every year new attractions are being added.

But it’s not always ‘the new’ that pleases the crowds. Some of the oldest draws in Niagara Falls are still the most loved, like the Hornblower Niagara City Cruises, the lovely Niagara Parks manicured gardens and the falls themselves.

The Whirlpool Aero Car would surely fit into that category.

Its image adorns postcards more than 100 years old, and it is one of the things Niagara Falls is best known for.

Located six kilometres north of the Whirlpool Falls along the Niagara Parkway, it is an easy drive away – and even easier to reach on the WeGo people mover system that traverses the entire tourist district.

Conveniently, it also stops right outside Howard Johnson By The Falls on Victoria Avenue, which is a great headquarters for your trip to Niagara Falls because it is close to everything – casinos, Clifton Hill, and the falls themselves.

The Niagara River is the dividing line between Canada and the U.S., and the two countries have co-existed pretty peacefully for the past 205 years, since the end of the War of 1812.

To ride the Whirlpool Aero Car it feels like you are touching both countries at once. But it is an optical illusion.

You do start on the Canadian side, but the other end of the aero car line is anchored to more Canadian soil. You’ve crossed a small bay in the Niagara River, not the river itself.

But if you’ve got kids with you, see if they can figure it out. Or let them enjoy the illusion.

None of that takes away from the thrill of the ride itself.

We’ve had a lot of innovations here when it comes to pleasing the tourists – casinos, concerts, ziplines. Yet more than 103 years after it was started, the Whirlpool Aero Car is still one of the coolest attractions in all of Niagara Falls.

You might also know it by an old nickname: the Spanish aero car.

That probably has a lot to do with the fact its creator, Leonardo Torres Quevedo, was a Spanish civil engineer. He also worked on dirigibles, remote control devices and the world’s first computer, according to the Niagara Parks Commission.

Quevedo called it the “transbordador” – in Spanish, ferry – and it is apparently the only one of its kind in existence.

Much of the thrill of this ride involves getting to the middle of the water and then looking straight down into the churning rapids that form a natural whirlpool.

Those rapids are actually shooting along at 35 km-h. Farther upriver, the rapids are Class 6 – considered among the very most dangerous in the world, where no boats or kayaks are allowed and the water roars along at nearly 50 km-h and tosses swell 10 feet tall or more.

Side to side and back, your ride on the aero car covers about one kilometre suspended from six strong steel cables. While you’re in the car you will be about 76 metres, or 250 feet, over the water.

And yes, there is a rescue car on standby if the aero car ever became stranded out there. Because you always have to be ready…