LOS ANGELES — Would-be pilots tested their wings in home-made flying machines at a recent competition in California that requires ingenuity and a sense of humor. More than 25 teams participated in National Redbull Flugtag Day, sponsored by a company that makes an energy drink.
Competitor Trevor Umbinetti said, “Flugtag is German for flying day. We build flying contraptions and push them off a 30-foot ramp into Rainbow Harbor here at Long Beach.”
Spectators Alex Smith and Christine Gray heard about the tournament on television. They came out for just one reason.
"It looks like it'd be awesome. It looks really funny and exciting,” said Smith.
“It's crazy! I'm hoping that they crash. It's more fun,” said Gray.
Many of the home-made flying machines did crash into the water sooner rather than later. Pilot Scott Hanson said he misjudged the landing. “The water impact was quicker and harder than I expected; but it was definitely fun. Definitely worth it, and that's all that mattered,” he said.
Teams are judged on flight distance, creativity, and showmanship by local and national celebrities, like motocross rider Robbie Maddison. “It's cool to finally be here. I heard it's such a great event to see. Like a lot of laughs and a lot of carnage.”
The world distance record for Flugtag flights was 70 meters, and pilot Laura Shane had thought she had a chance to break it. “I thought the takeoff was the most dangerous part; so once that was done I was feeling pretty good about it," she said.
“We flew 258 feet [78 meters] today. I'm still like shaking. It'd be fun to do it again. We're going to have to sleep a little bit first," said Shane with a laugh.
For shattering the record, Laura and her teammates will receive a skydiving trip, as the competitors recover from their bruises.
Deyane Moses was the producer for this report.