The term "flying fox" is most commonly used in reference to a small-scale zip line typically used as an item of children's play equipment, except in Australian English and New Zealand English where it also refers to professional forms of zip-line equipment.
In a flying fox the pulley(s), attached to the car, is fixed to the cable. The car itself can consist of anything from a simple hand grip, with the user hanging underneath, or a bucket for transporting small items to a quite elaborate construction, perhaps including a seat or a safety strap. Children's versions are usually not set up with a steep incline, so the speeds are kept relatively low, negating the need for a means of stopping.
In order to be propelled by gravity, the cable needs to be on a fairly steep slope. Even then the car will generally not travel completely to the end, although this will depend on the load and some means of safely stopping the car at the bottom end is sometimes needed. It can be returned by several means, a line leading from the car to the uphill end being the simplest.
New Zealand is home to the world biggest / longest Flying fox.
Professional versions of a zip-line are most typically used as an outdoor adventure activity. In contrast to "flying foxes" professional courses are usually operated at higher speeds covering much longer distances and sometimes at considerable heights. The users are physically attached to the cable by wearing a harness which attaches to a removable trolley. A helmet is required on almost all courses of any size.
Cables can be very high, starting at a height of over 30 feet (9 m), and traveling well over 1500 feet (457 m). All zip line cables have some degree of sag. The proper tensioning of a cable is important and allows the ability to tune the ride of a zip line.
Users of zip-lines must have means of stopping themselves. Typical mechanisms include:
Costa Rica is known for their Canopy Tours where a vacationer can zip through the rainforest. The zip-lines are scattered among several platforms, some as high as 130 feet.
Zip-lines are a common way to return participants to the ground at the end of a ropes adventure course.
In past days in the Australian outback, flying foxes were occasionally used for delivering food, cigarettes or tools to people working on the other side of an obstacle such as a gully or river. Australian troops have used them to deliver food, mail and even ammunition to forward positions in several conflicts.
Zip-lines may be dangerous devices, requiring proper knowledge of ropework.
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