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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 01/19/2011

Ice sledding on a flyer

By Kevin Ambrose

The better way to go downhill on ice

A video of sledding on an ice-covered road in Fairfax County, January 18, 2011.

After our ice storm Monday night, I broke out the flyer sled and gave it a try. The flyer sled is the type of sled with two metal runners under a wooden frame with a large steering handle; it's the same type of sled that many of us grew up with as kids. The "Flexible Flyer" is the most common brand of flyer sled, which has existed since the late 1800s. The flyer does not do well in deep snow, but it is king on ice or hard-packed snow. If you've never been on a flyer sled on ice, check out the video from Tuesday morning. If you're prone to motion sickness, you may want to skip it.

The flyer sled in the video is a US Flyer. I received it as a Christmas gift when I was 13 years-old and now my kids are using it. When I was a kid, we would set up sled trains that were usually led by a flyer. Because the flyer sled could steer, the leader of the train would steer back-and-forth, trying to whip the last sleds off of the train. The goal for each kid was to stay attached to the train for the entire sledding run.

Let us know if you have any flyer or other sledding stories...

By Kevin Ambrose  | January 19, 2011; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Photography  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Why not to drive downhill on ice
Next: Another glancing snow blow Friday morning


It's ice movie day on the CWG!
My husband & I have a pair of Flyers. We wore the old one (from 1960s) out the hills of Manassas battlefield. They are awesome. Thanks for motion sickness here.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | January 19, 2011 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Brings back good memories... used hold a Flexible Flyer sled up and run before diving onto the road going down head first (no helmet of course)...

Posted by: spgass1 | January 19, 2011 11:15 AM | Report abuse


LOL. Indeed it is ice movie day. Thought the two videos were good compliments :) We'll have Wes's snow update up soon so we can find out whether we can break the sleds out Friday morning...

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 19, 2011 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Jason you are loving the chance to tease us for another 24 hour weather cycle.
Think I'll just enjoy the sunshine which just broke out here in Manassas. Torment me tomorrow...can't take no mo'.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | January 19, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

this video brings back so many memories of sledding on the ice in the mid 90s!

Posted by: bachaney | January 19, 2011 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Just hope there weren't any Philly drivers coming down the sledding road.

Posted by: ah___ | January 19, 2011 11:55 AM | Report abuse

wheee! I'm right there with bachaney -- watching the video brought me back to Pine Road in Bowie in March of '93.

Posted by: random-adam | January 19, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse

How is it that luge is described as a "Flexible Flyer" although a luge sled is specially designed to attain high speeds on a distinct ice-lined course?

My dad used to say that bobsleds were probably the most dangerous though I tend to regard luge as more hazardous than boblsled [or "bobsleigh" as the Euro's tend to say]. A modern bobsled has some degree of protection for its crew whereas a luge sled offers little or no protection for its rider.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | January 19, 2011 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Why is that when we were kids walking up the hill never seemed to be a problem.

@Kevin-CWG: tell the truth, how many times did you trek back up? :)

Posted by: AsymptoticUnlimited | January 19, 2011 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Great memories from many big ice storms we got in Southern Va in the 70's and 80's. My dad's old Flexible Flyer could out-turn and out-race anyone in the neighborhood. We had a long hill leading into a highway. To come to a stop you'd have to skid sideways for about 30-50 yards. Really dangerous looking back at it, but incredible fun that I would relive in an instant if I were back there for a storm.

Posted by: dudster89 | January 19, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

bachaney - I am probably remembering the same crazy-ice-coated snow and other ice storms from the 90s, like you are recalling. Good/dangerous(?) times! haha

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | January 19, 2011 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Like others, that sure did bring back some memories. I think ours is in my dad's garage. Only hill worthy of sledding back in my old childhood stomping grounds was a street very similar to yours video. Ahh, good times annoying the old folks in cars. Bonus, my bff lived at the top and I lived at the bottom.

Posted by: Lively | January 19, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I made the sled run about six or seven times Tuesday morning. I stopped the camera at the bottom of the hill but I continued across a large cul-de-sac, down a pipe stem driveway, then up a hillside to a stop. The video would have been much longer if I recorded the entire run. The walk back up the hill was quite long, but worth it.

Posted by: Kevin-CapitalWeatherGang | January 19, 2011 1:58 PM | Report abuse

You didnt make any jumps man what I wuss.

I used to live on Cabin Branch Ct in PG County. In the right icy conditions a Flexible Flyer or Speedway could be beat.
Hit speeds close to 20 on sled and over 40mph on bike with speedo.

Remember one time sledding at St Margarets in PG Cty started by the front door of the church we sledded down through the parking lot/playground down a the path and the cut through to the road and down to Cabin Branch Rd one year when there was about 3/4 of inch of ice covering everything.

Pinehurst Golf Course in off Rt 236 in Annandale used to the place to go back in late 70's big hill in the back. Beer and riding double with hot girl on top. Long killer run that was always well packed for Flexible Flyers.

jason next time some jumps about 12 inches high.

Posted by: sheepherder | January 19, 2011 2:18 PM | Report abuse

kids today rarely get a chance to break out the flexible flyer type sleds. i think it's because the plows come by SO quickly after a storm. i remember after storms as a kid how it would take days and days for a plow/sand truck to show up (only to be pelted by snowballs....) even after medium-sized storms. this gave cars a chance to pack down the streets and for mother nature to put a bit of melt/re-freeze on top and, voila, the perfect runner-sledding surface.

like kevin, we used to make trains by grabbing the person ahead's boots and/or interlocking the boots into the sled behind. the leader would often intentionally try to "fishtail" the train's rear "cars" of the side of the road... the "caboose" always got the wildest ride.

and of course there were the races wherein you were allowed to try to cause other sleds to wipe out by jerking their runners sideways... i remember, sort of, the time i crashed headlong into a tree...knocked me out completely for a few seconds. i literally saw stars... ah... good times...good times...

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | January 19, 2011 2:22 PM | Report abuse

walter-in-fallschurch: Good point about how side streets were often never plowed many years ago. As a kid, my road was only plowed if the snowfall was deep; otherwise, it was left to become snowpacked. The flyer sleds would work for days on the streets.

Posted by: Kevin-CapitalWeatherGang | January 19, 2011 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Recommend that a person not do any "jumps" on a Flyer.
That's what eventually retired our vintage Flyer. We walloped it one too many times on snow ramp jumps.
Get a snowboard for those stunts.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | January 19, 2011 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Right down to the house with the "For Sale" sign on it.

Posted by: rmcazz | January 19, 2011 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Are you nutz?! Yeah, I was too when I was a kid. We started at the top of one downhill street, made a 90 degree turn to the right and continued to the bottom of the next street.

The kids walking back up the hills were the lookouts for those flying down the hills from the tops. We also did trains, but they didn't work out so well making the turns!

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | January 19, 2011 5:40 PM | Report abuse

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