By Charly SHELTON
If you’ve ever had a Red Bull energy drink, then you know the familiar feeling of wanting to do something reckless right now! Like skydive from a space ship. Or drive 100 miles an hour. Or build a dragon and fly away with it. That is the spirit of Red Bull – adventure and excitement to go along with the massive pounding in your eyeballs!
The drink company has become synonymous with pushing the limits of world records and extreme sports in general. The highest freefall (from the edge of space) was in fact sponsored and organized by Red Bull. The Red Bull Moto GP is taking place this weekend in Spain, pushing motorcycles to the limits. And the world-renowned Red Bull Flugtag has been going strong since 1992 in over 35 cities around the world.
What is the flugtag? It means “air show” in German. The competition consists of several teams who have built their own man-powered flying machines that are pushed off a ledge. Then they try to fly as far as they can before hitting the water below. The world record stood at 229 feet, set last year by a German team from a flugtag in Mainz, Germany. That is until last Saturday.
The first annual National Flugtag Day was held Sept. 21 in five cities around the country simultaneously – Washington DC, Miami, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth and Long Beach. And of all the Flugtags in America, a Long Beach team walked away with the new world record – 258 feet. Team Chicken Whisperers of Palo Alto, Calif. flew their 85-pound craft comprised of foam, aluminum tubing and balsa wood into the record books by shattering the previous distance by 29 feet.
Some crafts weren’t meant to fly such as the buffalo shaped craft that made a beeline for the water right off the launch platform, courtesy of UC Santa Barbara. Or the dragon shaped craft dubbed “Game of Throwns” which flew more like a potato than a dragon. Some crafts, such as the flying saucer shaped craft made of balsa wood and fabric covering, were so lightweight that they flew off the platform with the offshore wind before the pilot could even get in.
But there was more than flight that wooed the crowd.
An honorable mention was earned by Team Uppers who flew the house from the Disney/Pixar animated film “Up.” The team members, who were dressed as the characters from the film, built a small replica of the house, tied balloons to the fireplace and set off down the launch platform with a cry of “Adventure is out there!” Granted, the house dropped like a rock, but it was the showmanship that wowed crowds.
By far the best craft, in this reporter’s opinion, was Team Oakley Factory Pilots with their angler fish craft. One of the most beautiful pieces of art ever pushed off a pier, the Oakley Factory Pilots created a metal angler fish with gaping jaws and riveted side panels. It didn’t fly far at all, but I don’t think that was the point. After its daring drop, the craft was largely intact unlike most of the others that broke apart on the surface of the water, and some that even broke before that. This was best in show, in my opinion, but they took third overall.
Chicken Whisperers took first for their record-breaking flight and The Legendary Flying Machine (a small, light version of the famous H-4 Hercules “Spruce Goose”) took second.
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