Every now and then * America’s Funniest Home Videos* shows two people at an amusement park, riding, seated side by side, some ride which takes them up in the air and makes them scream. The view of them on camera is so close I can’t guess what the ride looks like from the ground. What kind of ride is it?
Really hard to tell without the actual video to look at, but your description brings to mind a drop tower.
Most of them I’ve seen are on the SlingShot or something similar. Here’s a representative youtube video.
And here is what it looks like from the spectator’s point of view.