Just going through Alton Towers Almanac's
concept art for Air. It’s amazing how closely the original plans resemble Manta.Source
I believe Airs entrance was always meant to be the giant fin. However the Cadburys Heroes sign is remarkably similar to the rocks and waterfall at Mantas entrance.RCDB Manta
After the main drop several geysers were supposed to spray up towards the rider’s feet. The effect would have been similar to Mantas water skim.Manta fly’s very close to a waterfall just like this but I can't find any images.
Although the track isn’t shown this waterfall was going to be as the train fly’s out of the tunnel towards the station. Manta effectively pulls the same trick before the final inversion.
There was also a plan to excavate a lake under the final turn, much like Manta. Instead they opted for a concert path.
As Sea World has demonstrated all of these ideas would have worked brilliantly for Air. It was such a shame they were pulled from the final design, pulling down the rides true potential. I live in hope that one day Air will need a re-theme and the old plans will be brought out again.
I seems to be going of the topic of the tunnel but if this theme was to return then they have a new option. Add the rock theme on the walls and have a water trench on the floor for fountain effects much like the ones under Ripsaw, except that these will never get close to riders, just to worry them that they might spray higher. The tunnel becomes a cave, adapting Airs Oasis theme and the current Forbidden Valley rock work. It wouldn’t be a cheap conversion but it would open up the option to add lights and mist for a really atmospheric start. Of course the tunnel would have to be waterproofed but this is more a “what if” suggestion rather than something I expect to happen. Possible but not probable