Flugtag: Fevered Dreams of Flight
A DIY flying-machine competition sponsored by an energy drink... what could possibly go wrong?
Flugtag, the globetrotting event that has contestants building ill-advised contraptions to catapult them into a river, visits Ottawa today. Some participants take the day very seriously, whereas others simply want to dress up and get wet. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
"We're hoping for flight, but we're not promising anybody," he said.
McMahon is team captain of Spruce Goose, one of six Ottawa-area entrants in Red Bull Flugtag, a bizarre event that is visiting the national capital for the first time.
Thirty teams -- chosen from among 200 applicants -- will launch weird and wonderful flying machines from atop a 22-foot platform at the edge of the Ottawa River today. Each team performs a two-minute skit before launching their contraptions off the edge of the platform. They will be judged on flying distance, creativity and showmanship.
The Frisbee in the Sky with Diamonds team has put together its creation for the upcoming Red Bull Flugtag.
“Flugtag has been going since 1991 and I grew up following it when I could,” said Kevin Morris, owner of Tropical North.
The Flugtag, pronounced Floogtag, is an event where teams build a non-motorized craft, a la the Wright brothers. It has to be big enough for a person to ride on, and is launched off a ramp into the water. It can’t weigh more than 450 pounds, including pilot, or be wider than 30 feet. The team whose creation soars the furthest distance before crashing wins the competition.
“I came up with the craziest thing I could. I figured that if someone was flat on a Frisbee and it was spinning as it flew, that would be something never seen before.”
The Frisbee in the Sky with Diamonds idea was born, and the group plans to dress up accordingly, with the Beatles’ Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds playing in the background.
“We’re all going to be dressed as hippies in tie dye,” said Morris.
“The concept is we’re playing disc and we’re tripping out, and I’m chasing the Frisbee off as a dog,” said Dan Walley. He admits he’s probably the only team member who didn’t know what the flugtag was. Now that he does, he’s ready to have fun.
According to one team from Winnipeg that will pilot an oversized model of Cavity Sam, the patient from the board game Operation, the event's concept is simply "geeks falling into water."
One area team, however, has dreams of gliding into history on wings of deep-fried dough. A group that includes two propmakers from the National Arts Centre plans to soar to victory on a seven-metre Beavertail, made from aluminum and silk and propelled by rolling-pin wheels.
In a skit prior to launch -- each team must perform a skit before its flight -- the NAC team's shtick has four ornery chefs pelting each other with prop jalapeno peppers and bickering over how to perfect Ottawa's contribution to world cuisine: the Beavertail.
Portland, Oregon had its day by the river yesterday, and with a massive turnout as well:
"It's a bunch of idiots flying into the river," said Jim Beauchamp, 67, sporting a brown cowboy hat. "Why wouldn't you want to do this?"
The retired couple wasn't alone in their enthusiasm for the event, in which 31 amateur teams built contraptions they then rolled and flew -- sort of -- into the Willamette River this afternoon at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. According to organizers, more than 80,000 people, young and old, flocked to downtown for the event, lining the riverbanks and bridges.
The judges for the event included Portland Trail Blazer forward Channing Frye and Kent Couch, who flew from Oregon to Idaho in a lawn chair carried by balloons.