Ropes - Flying Foxes

Flying Foxes


 Rules for the construction and operation of a Flying Fox, current as at January 2011.

 1.      Scope

  •  With the exception of certain Approved static constructions, the maximum permitted overall length of a Flying Fox constructed for regular Scouting activities shall be 25 metres.
  • Construction of a Flying Fox must involve the adoption of methods and the use of materials that will minimise the risks inherent in its use.
  • Strict attention to all safety factors and compliance with these rules is of paramount importance.
  • The protection of Leaders by the Association’s Public Liability Insurance Policies may well be compromised in the event of failure to comply with all or any of these rules (certain static constructions excepted).

 2.  Leader Qualification

  •  The Leader-in-Charge of a Flying Fox activity must hold a Certificate of Adult Leadership.
  • Leaders responsible for the construction of a Flying Fox of up to 25 metres overall length should preferably have attained a Certificate of Advanced Leadership or, must have at least satisfactorily completed a Specialist Pioneering Course and preferably have gained experience in other major pioneering projects by working alongside other experienced Leaders.
  • On some occasions, members of a Rover Crew may be requested to construct and operate a Flying Fox. In such circumstances, the Rovers responsible for the selection of materials and the construction of the Flying Fox must first demonstrate appropriate prior learning and experience consistent with the requirements specified in rule 2.2

3.  In all cases, the following safety procedures shall be observed

  • First Aid Qualifications: At least one Leader in each of the teams respectively responsible for the construction and operation of a Flying Fox shall be the holder of a current VSFAS; St. John or Red Cross Level 2 First Aid qualification and have ready access at all times to appropriate first aid equipment.
  • Constant supervision:  The preparation, construction and operation of a Flying Fox shall be and remain at all times under the direct and constant supervision of a responsible and competent adult with training and experience in the use of rope and the rigging of structures consistent with that specified in rule 2.1.2
  • Safety precautions: In circumstances where a youth member riding a Flying Fox may be more than two (2) metres from the ground at any point of travel, suitable safety equipment (as appropriate) shall be worn. It is mandatory that helmets with four-point attachment (e.g. caving; rock climbing or bicycle helmets) be worn at all times by those participating.
  • The Traveling Block – shall be a single sheave block with an eye or ring. No alternative block shall be used and specifically, under no circumstances shall a block with a hook be used.
  • The Seat – shall hang at least 150cm below the traveling block and shall be constructed and fitted in such manner that it is incapable of slippage or tilting. A restraining belt should be used. The seat ropes should be secured to the eye of the block and with round turns and two half hitches made with the bights, each of which shall have an ample tail.
  • The Main Hawser – shall be 24mm diameter static rope (as used by Abseilers) or Polypropylene. The full length of the main hawser shall be carefully inspected for damage and impairment before being authorised for use. A suspect hawser shall not be used.  Alternatively, a wire hawser of at least 10mm in diameter may instead be used PROVIDED THAT the hawser has been inspected and certified, at least once in each year by a competent Authority, as being suitable for its intended use.
  • Maximum height: Under no circumstances shall the maximum height of the main hawser exceed 7 meters above ground level at any point.
  • Cordage – With the exception of the Main Hawser, (all Strops and the rope or slings attaching the Shackle)  all rope used for the construction of a Flying Fox shall be in sound condition and shall be not less than 12mm in diameter.
  • Block and Tackle – shall be of the correct size for the main hawser being used. Blocks shall be of the swivel eye or ring type and as specified in rule 3.1.4, shall not be comprised of a hook under any circumstances. All blocks shall be free running and be in good order and shall be serviced and greased before use. The shackle, through which the main hawser runs, shall be attached to the structure with rope or steel slings having a diameter of not less than 15mm.
  • Pioneering Poles – shall be in good condition and shall be individually examined before being authorised for use.
  • It is most important that all pioneering poles to be used in the construction of a Flying Fox shall be free from shakes and rot and shall be of appropriate length and thickness for the load to be carried.
  • Anchorages, pegs and stakes – All anchorages shall be constructed by a method appropriate to the nature and depth of the soil and all stakes and pegs employed in the construction of each anchorage shall be straight and sound and shall be inspected individually before being authorised for use.
  • Padding – In circumstances where it is intended to pass the main hawser through the naturally occurring fork of a living tree, adequate padding must be placed in the fork so as to avoid damage to the tree.  Likewise, adequate padding must always be added to the crutch of sheer legs to protect the lashing rope from damage by the main hawser.
  • The Braking device – must be fitted so that the traveling block comes to rest no closer than two (2) metres to the end of the structure (being the sheer legs or tree, as the case may be).
  • Embarking and Disembarking – Appropriate provision shall be made for persons riding a Flying Fox to mount and dismount with safety. Consideration should be given to the provision of suitable structures for these purposes.
  • Strops – Ropes used as strops shall be not less than 16mm in diameter.
  • Instructions – Appropriate explanations and instructions shall be given to each and every passenger in sufficient detail for them to safely complete their journey.  All persons, while waiting to ride, shall be required to stand clear of and behind the mounting point.
  • Inspections – All points of the structure shall be frequently inspected by a Leader whose training and experience in the construction and operation of a Flying Fox are at least consistent with those specified in rule 2.1.2. In the event that adjustments may be required, all operations shall cease while these are being made. All adjustments must also be inspected as aforesaid.
  • Maximum numbers – No more than one person intending to ride the Flying Fox shall be permitted on or to climb the structure at the same time and the only other people permitted to be on the structure while the Flying Fox is in use shall be responsible Leaders assisting persons to mount with safety. All such Leaders shall be securely harnessed to the structure.
  • Safety Area - A designated safety area of 5 metres either side of a line corresponding with a an imaginary line on the ground directly beneath the main hawser is to be established and rigidly controlled to ensure the safe operation of the Flying Fox and to protect riders from physical interference while traveling.

 4.      Permission

  •  A Flying Fox which exceeds 25 metres in length shall be constructed only under the personal direction of a person(s) who is/have been formally accredited to undertake such constructions within the workplace environment.
  • The Group Leader (or District Commissioner in the case of a District Activity or Region Commissioner in the case of a Region Activity) must be personally acquainted with all details pertaining to the activity and shall fully satisfy himself/herself that all equipment employed in the construction and operation of the Flying Fox meets the relevant standards specified in these rules.
  • It is required that a Flying Fox constructed and operated in accordance with these rules shall first be designated in writing to the Branch Commissioner (Adventurous Activities), Garry Breadon as being an “Authorised Scouting Activity”.  This is essential for the purposes of our Public Liability Insurance.
  • Those participating in the operation of a Flying Fox constructed in accordance with these rules may be Joey Scouts; Cub Scouts; Scouts; Venturer Scouts and Rovers. No charge shall be made for participants who are members of the general public.

    For further information please contact Branch Commissioner (Adventurous Activities) Garry Breadon.



Type: Activity