Standards and Practices

Standards and Practices

Hall Associates Standards and Practices

Revised: January 28, 2004


The creation of flying effects is a highly specialized area of stage rigging. Since there are no comprehensive standards or guidelines for the design and/or operation of any system for this purpose, companies and individuals involved in creating these effects must develop their own systems and guidelines.

The purpose of this document is to clearly state the standards and practices Hall Associates Flying Effects uses to design, construct, install, inspect and operate its flying systems.

This document is not a tutorial on creating flying effects. Hall Associates Flying Effects accepts no responsibility for the misuse or misinterpretation of the information in this document. Anyone using the information in this document to construct a flying system does so at his own risk.

These standards and practices cover single and multi-wire flying systems that use direct human strength, mechanical advantage and/or counterweights to lift and/or transport performers to create the illusion of flying or levitating above the ground for live stage productions.

The terms “flying effects” and “aerial effects” are used broadly in this document to pertain to any effect in which a performer appears to overcome gravity and rise above the ground or descend to the ground. These terms include, but are not limited to, any movement of the performer in any direction and at any speed while suspended in the air.


Competent Person: a person capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the workplace and who is authorized to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.

D:d Ratio: the ratio of the tread diameter of the sheave (D) compared to the diameter of the wire rope (d).

Design (Safety) Factor: a ratio of the working load limit to the ultimate breaking strength of the material or component.

Flying Wire: a thin wire rope (either single-strand or multi-strand) that connects the flying harness to the lift system. This wire is at least partially within the view of the audience.

Non Single-Point Failure System: a system in which a catastrophic failure of any single component in the system cannot result in a complete failure of the system or injury to a performer.

Operating (Lift) Line: a rope, serving the same purpose as the purchase line in a mechanical counterweight system, which is usually attached to a working cable, allowing the operators to apply the necessary force to lift the performer.

Qualified Person: a competent person who by extensive knowledge, training and experience, has successfully demonstrated the ability to solve or resolve the design, installation, operation and safety issues related to the subject matter and work.

Working Cable (Or Lifting Cable): a wire rope or non-metallic rope, which passes over pulleys or blocks and is integral to lifting the performer, yet may not be attached directly to the performer.

Working Load Limit: the maximum load that shall be applied to a device.

Flying Systems

Hall Associates Flying Effects uses a variety of flying systems in stage productions. All flying systems have been designed by a qualified individual, who has considered and made allowances for the weight of the performer and costume, in addition to suspension angles, acceleration, deceleration, centrifugal force, resultant forces, choreography and other factors in determining the maximum load on each component in the system. The qualified individual then selects components that meet or exceed the system requirements. All systems and components have been designed and tested to meet the minimum specifications as listed in this document.

In certain applications, non-single-point failure systems are utilized. In these systems there are redundancies for all critical components order to provide an additional margin of safety.

Flying harnesses

Flying harnesses worn by performers are considered a component of the rigging, not part of the costume. Only qualified individuals shall perform construction, adaptation and maintenance of flying harnesses. Careful attention shall be paid so that any costume elements worn over flying harnesses do not impair the vision, mobility and/or safety of the performers.

Our flying harnesses are primarily constructed of Type 7, Class 1, 1-3/4″ wide nylon webbing that meets MIL-W-4088/27265 speculations. Some harnesses may contain 1″ wide webbing. All webbing in flying harnesses shall have a minimum tensile strength of 5,000 lbs.

All seams on harness straps (leg, shoulder, waist and other critical components of the harness) shall have a minimum tensile strength of 2,000 lbs.

D-rings, harness plates and swivel assemblies that are a part of a flying harness shall have a minimum tensile strength of 2,500 lbs.

Buckles on leg and shoulder straps of flying harnesses shall have a minimum tensile strength of 2,500 lbs., and buckles on waist belt shall have a minimum tensile strength of 500 lbs.

Flying harnesses shall not be dyed, painted or marked with any substance which could degrade the strength and/or integrity of the harness materials or inhibit the free movement and/or flexibility of its parts.

Flying harnesses shall be inspected for wear or other defects by a competent person prior to each performance.

Flying Props

All flying props that support a performer shall have a minimum design factor of eight (8).

When there is risk of a performer falling from a flying prop, the performer shall be secured to the prop by means of belts or harnesses. Circus or gymnastic acts where the performer supports his/her own weight are exempt from this requirement.

Wire ropes

Selection of the size of wire ropes used for flying wire(s) shall be based upon the intended use, including the weight to be lifted, flying choreography (pendulums, somersaults, etc.), number of wire ropes supporting performer, rigging method, inspection schedule and other relevant factors.

The efficiency rating of the wire rope termination method used shall be factored into the computed breaking strength of the wire rope, and selections of wire rope size shall be made by applying the design factor to the computed breaking strength.

In systems that use one or two flying wires, a minimum design factor of five (5) shall be used for each flying wire.

In systems that use three or more flying wires and the performer’s weight can be transferred to one or two wires, a minimum design factor of five (5) shall be used for each flying wire.

In systems that use three or more flying wires and the performer’s weight cannot be transferred to only one or two wires, the combined breaking strength of the minimum numbers of flying wires that can share the weight of the performer at one given time shall have a minimum design factor of five (5).

All working (lifting) cables shall have a minimum design factor of eight (8).

When rope, shock cord, fabric or other specialty materials are used to support a performer, these components shall comply with the manufacturers’ or vendors’ specifications for their use.

Operating (lift) lines

Lift lines (ropes) shall have a minimum design factor of ten (10).

Pulleys, blocks, sheaves and drums

The D:d ratio of a sheave (or drum) and the cable shall not be less than the minimum recommended by the wire rope manufacturer for the type of wire rope being used.

When pulleys, blocks, sheaves or drums are used in a situation that the wire rope is subject to swing so that a fleet angle of the wire rope is greater than that recommend by the manufacturer, means to compensate for potential fleet angle problems and dynamic forces shall be incorporated.

Pulleys, blocks and drums shall be designed to prevent the wire rope from coming out of the groove and becoming jammed between the sheave and the side-plate of the pulley or block or wrapping around the shaft of the drum.

The grooves in sheaves and drums shall be properly sized for the cable or rope being used.

The maximum load placed on any pulley, block or drum shall not exceed the working load limit specified by the manufacturer.

Track and trolleys (carriers)

Rigid track and components used in flying effects shall have a minimum design factor of eight (8), and cable (wire rope) track shall have a minimum design factor of twelve (12).

Track sections shall be securely joined together by bolts to prevent sections of track from separating during use.

Track shall be supported according to manufacturer’s recommendations.

Trolleys shall have a minimum design factor of eight (8).

Terminations and attachments

Swaging sleeves shall be fitted to manufacturer’s specifications and compressions checked with a go/no go gauge in accordance with the manufacture’s specification.

Swaging sleeves shall be made of copper, zinc-plated copper or stainless steel, unless in conflict with a local, state or national code.

All wire rope clips used for terminating wire ropes shall be forged, properly sized for the wire rope being used and installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications. The use of malleable wire rope clips is not permitted.

All hardware or devices used to connect the flying wire to the harness shall have a minimum design factor of five (5).

All swivels, shackles, eye-bolts, rings, quick links or other hardware that supports the performer’s generated weight, excluding hardware for connecting the flying wire to the harnesses, shall have a minimum design factor of eight (8).

All rings shall be forged or welded to form a complete loop.

All eyebolts shall be forged to form a complete loop.  Open hooks or bent eyes shall not be used in any flying system.

Installation of equipment

The equipment used for creating aerial effects is often attached to the stationary structural members of a building or theatre, to a movable batten of a mechanical counter-weight or motorized system or to a temporary truss or supporting member. Before any equipment is installed a qualified person shall inspect the facility and its equipment and determine its appropriateness for supporting the flying equipment and the forces that will result from its use.

The installation of flying equipment shall be supervised by a qualified individual who is familiar with the specific equipment being utilized for the effect, its proper use and installation requirements.

When flying effects are to be performed outside, the effects of the elements (wind, rain, etc.) on the performers during flights, the operators and the flying equipment shall be considered in the choice of components in the flying system and the erection of the supporting structure for the flying equipment.

Inspections and maintenance

Flying operators shall pay careful attention to the sound and feel of the rigging during operation and immediately report any changes to the flying director or to Hall Associates Flying Effects.

Flying wires, operating lines and other components that might become damaged during use, shall be carefully inspected by a competent person before each performance. Damaged components shall be repaired or replaced before the system is used.

A complete inspection of all components of the rigging for aerial effects shall be performed on a regular basis. The flying director will set the inspection schedule.

Only qualified individuals shall perform any maintenance on flying equipment.

Operation of Equipment

All flying operators and performers, including understudies, shall be fully trained by a qualified person and rehearsed with the flying equipment.

No performer or flying operator shall participate in a flying effect if his or her ability is impaired. Examples include: alcohol or drug use, fatigue, or physical or mental disability.

Every attempt shall be made to provide the flying operators with an unobstructed view of the performer’s flight path while flying a performer. When an operator’s view is obstructed or compromised due to low light intensity, the use of cameras and monitors, trained spotters or infrared devices is acceptable.

Flying operators shall have a clear, stable, non-distracting area in which to operate.

It is highly recommended that flying operators wear full-fingered, form-fitting, thin leather gloves when operating flying systems. Original Neumann football receiver’s gloves are the best for most applications ( The Original Glove, by Mechanix, is also a decent glove for rope work (

The flying choreography shall not be changed by the stage director, the choreographer, the performers or any other individual who is not qualified to make these changes.

Flying Systems

Hall Associates Flying Effects has pioneered innovative flying systems to meet nearly any flying need...

Learn about our flying systems »


Answers to frequently asked questions about having flying effects added to your show...

Get answers to your questions »

Estimate Request

Need to know what it will cost to have flying effects added to your show or performance?...

Request an estimate here »