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A massive wooden structure rises up on the side of the road.

At a distance, it appears as a pirate ship teeming with skilled sailors. Figures are climbing rope ladders and balancing on swaying plank walkways. Or is it some sort of circus setup? Someone appears to be walking a tightrope. Then a child zips through the sky and disappears over a stand of trees. The Aerial Adventure Park — an elaborate, three-tiered ropes course connected to two zip lines that carries people over the minigolf course and across the park. 
 
Rope courses were originally built for team building. It was only a couple of years ago that they entered the adventure park business. The ropes course, designed and built during the winter, offers 30 exciting elements or obstacles, some of them taking climbers 45 feet in the air. From the top tier, people can navigate their way over to the zip line or the giant swing. You’re 40 feet in the air in your harness and you just free fall for 12 to 15 feet and then swing out. The course, a series of wooden platforms (similar to crow’s nests) and elements (tight wires, swings, tippy bridges and cargo nets), can hold 60 people safely and still maintain a good flow.  
 
Each participant wears a helmet and a harness that is connected to safety cables running throughout the course. Typically, rope courses require people to clip onto the cables with two carabiners, or clips, so that they can unhook one and move it while still being safely connected with the second carabiner. The Park takes safety one step further by using a Smart Belay clip-in system made by Edelrid, a company that has been producing technical mountaineering gear since the 1950s. These expensive pulley carabiners have a system of communicating that prevents accidental complete unclipping. A button inside each carabiner sends a signal to the other carabiner when it has been clipped onto a cable and taken off a cable. The two carabiners can’t be open at the same time.
 
Much information was gathered from the Association for Challenge Course Technology, or ACCT, which developed the standards for ropes course inspections, equipment and hardware. Before park visitors take to the sky, they have to go through a quick “ground school,” where they practice transitioning between safety cables. They then pair up into teams of two or three for safety.
 

*Aerial Adventure offers new outdoor challenge.* A massive wooden structure rises up on the side ...

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