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A zip-line (also known as a flying fox, foefie slide, zip wire, aerial runway, aerial ropeslide, death slide or tyrolean crossing) consists of a pulley suspended on a cable mounted on an incline. It is designed to enable a user propelled by gravity to traverse from the top to the bottom of the inclined cable, usually made of stainless steel, by holding on or attaching to the freely moving pulley. Zip-lines come in many forms, most often used as a means of entertainment. They may be short and low, intended for child's play and found on some playgrounds. Longer and higher rides are often used as a means of accessing remote areas, such as a rainforest canopy. Zip-line tours are becoming popular vacation activities, found at outdoor adventure camps or upscale resorts, where they may be an element on a larger challenge or ropes course.[1]

Contents

Flying fox

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 Australia and New Zealand where it also refers to professional forms of zip-line equipment.[citation needed]

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.

Professional courses

Professional zip-line in Costa Rica

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:

  • Thick purpose-built leather gloves.
  • A mat or netting at the lower end of the incline.
  • An arrester system composed of springs, pulleys, counter-weights, bungee cord or other devices, which slows then stops the trolley's motion.
  • Gravity stop utilizing the inherent nature of the sag in the cable. The belly of the cable is always lower than the termination point. The amount of uphill on a zip line controls the speed at which the zipist arrives at the termination point.

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.

Some smaller, indoor zip lines have also been used in commercial applications for children's recreation centers such as Jungle Quest.

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.

An example of a flat ground zip-line is located in Florida at the Zipline Safari course.

Two Royal Caribbean International ships, the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas, will both have ziplines going over the "Boardwalk" areas of the ships. Also owned by Royal Caribbean, Labadee, a private beach on the northern coast of Haiti has its own private zipline.

History

The zip-wire is not a recent invention. Referred to as "an inclined strong"[2], one appears in The Invisible Man by H.G Wells, published in 1897, as part of a Whit-Monday fair.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ http://www.mauimagazine.net/Maui-Magazine/September-October-2008/Dont-Look-Down/ Don't Look Down!
  2. ^ See the second paragraph here where the phrase is underlined.

External links

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