- For other uses of the term “Flying fox” see Flying fox (disambiguation)
A flying fox is a small cable car, often propelled by gravity, and used as an item of children‘s play equipment and more rarely for other purposes. The term flying fox is Australian English and New Zealand English. Similar toys are known as zip-lines (American) or aerial runways (British). The toy should not be confused with a foxtail (or fox tail), which is a children’s toy consisting of a ball with a rope attached to it, allowing it to be thrown like a sling.
In South Africa it is referred to as a Foofy Slide.
The cable is fixed at both ends and runs through one or more pulleys attached to the car. The car itself can consist of anything from a simple handle for the passenger to grip or a bucket for transporting small items to a quite elaborate construction, perhaps including a seat, a safety strap or a box with a lid for example.
A flying fox is 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.
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.