Red Bull Flugtag Miami
July 13, 2010
Kathy with Team KISS
Red Bull Flugtag Miami
The makers of Red Bull energy drink came up with the idea for their infamous “Flugtag” (which means “Flying Day” in German) in 1991 when they held their first competition in Vienna, Austria and since that day they have traveled the world hosting more than 80 events in 40 countries. I have long wanted to attend one of these wacky events, but had yet to see one in person until this year’s event in Miami.
The event involves teams of creative individuals who design, build and pilot homemade flying machines off a 30 foot high ramp in hopes of achieving human powered flight. The entries are judged by distance flown, creativity and showmanship. This event brought out 35 entries including one from Key West and one from a team from my alma mater, Purdue University.
Staying just across the street from Bayfront Park, Kathy & I got up early and got to the park early enough to set up our folding chairs in a prime location just next to the judging stand. It was a good thing too, because by the start of festivities, there were over 85,000 people lining the shore and off-shore in boats, rafts and kayaks to watch the event.
Getting there early also allowed us plenty of time to hang out in the paddock area and meet and greet the entrants as well as get up close views of the flying machines. The diversity, creativity and just plain wackiness reminded me of Fantasy Fest without the booze and nudity. Each entrant also performs a short 30m second skit before their flights and many were practicing the skits in advance of being judged.
The Winning Team
The event also had a aerobatic display by the Red Bull air force and stunt sky-diving team before the actual flights started. This included a wicked cool demonstration by Chuck Aaron flying the Red Bull Helicopter that included flying the copter upside down. It was amazing, as was the skydiver who jumped out of a plane in a kayak and landed smoothly on Biscayne Bay.
Team Flying Manatee
The actual flights started around noon and they did not disappoint. While most of the machines barely flew at all, plunging directly off the ramp into the bay. A few performed decently. The winning distance flew all of 54 feet, not bad but far short of the record 195 ft. world record distance. The winning team was the Team Formula Flugtag Flug from Palm Beach Gardens with the team from the University of Miami in 2nd place.
The Purdue team made the top 5, which I never would have believed upon seeing their train shaped entry, but it actually glided down smoothly rather than plunging straight in. Not bad at all. The event moved right along in spite of the number of entries and was wrapped up before 3 PM. It was a perfect day for flying, bright, sunny and hot. Not too hot for the masses of people who enjoyed the Flugtag.
Red Bull Flugtag website