Azusa Pacific students watched history take place Saturday, Sept. 21 when Red Bull held its first “National Flugtag” and hosted five Flugtag events, including one in Long Beach, on the same day.
Flugtag is an open yearly competition in which participants create a non-motorized flying machine and launch them off a 31-foot-tall ramp. The Long Beach ramp was built off a pier in Rainbow Harbor, and teams competed to see whose entry could fly the longest before crashing into the ocean.
“Red Bull has done it again,” junior social work major Reginald Wade Cutliff said after the event concluded. “It is always great to see Red Bull pull off a great event and provide a fun-filled Saturday for thousands of spectators here in Long Beach. All of the teams did a fantastic job performing.”
The first Flugtag was hosted in 1992 in Vienna, Austria. Ten years later, events came to the United States.
On Saturday’s national Flugtag day, Flugtag events were hosted in Long Beach, Washington D.C., Dallas, Chicago and Miami. One particular flight overshadowed all others, as a world record was broken at the Long Beach event.
The previous world record was set last year when a team in Germany flew 229 feet. But Sept. 21 that record was smashed by a team of American aerospace and mechanical engineers from Palo Alto, Calif., with the team name “Chicken Whisperers.” The lightweight gilder launched off the ramp and soared over the frigid Pacific and into the history books, landing at a distance of 258 feet.
“I was lucky to catch a nice wind after takeoff,” Chicken Whisperers’ pilot Laura Shane said. “And I was able to steer the craft, using grip-controlled rudders in the back of the structure, to go even further.”
The Chicken Whisperers took first place at the competition and won a free skydive experience with Red Bull’s Airforce.
Team “Legendary Flying Machine” secured second place at the event and won a VIP experience at a future Red Bull-sponsored sports event. Team “Oakley Factory” took third place in the event as members delivered a self-proclaimed “theatrical spectacular.”
The People’s Choice Award went to a team named “Red, White, and Brew” as participants succeeded in pleasing the crowd with a memorable crash rather than soaring into the sky. They won a VIP experience at a private luxury suite in a Red Bull-sponsored arena.
Teams were judged based on distance, creativity and showmanship. The panel of judges included members from the hit television series “Workaholics” as well as Red Bull-sponsored athletes.
Approximately 110,000 people attended and watched the Long Beach Flugtag from a grassy hill across the harbor. Although hundreds applied to compete, only 28 teams were selected to build and launch their aerodynamic creations.
Each team had five members, one of whom was required to fly with the built structure. Each team also had to design its plane in accordance with Flugtag rules, which included a maximum width of 30 feet and top weight of 400 pounds.
“It was an exhilarating experience watching these intricately designed crafts soar through the air and ungraciously land in the water,” said junior marketing major Jordan Annis, who was watching the Flugtag. “Watching these teams made me want to compete in next year’s competition.”
The crowd enjoyed performances by Red Bull-sponsored skydivers and a stunt helicopter, along with a special demonstration by a team using water-powered jetpacks. Throughout the event, live video footage was provided as well as pre- and post-flight interviews.
Several APU students at the event discussed the possibility of getting together a Cougar-sponsored team for next year’s Flugtag and naming the creation “Cougie.”