Red Bull is no longer just for mixing with Vodka. This Saturday, you can watch it fuel the bodies and brains of hundreds of contestants as they get ready to propel off of a 30 foot barge into the intercoastal at Bayfront Park, while strapped to something that they’re all hoping will fly far enough to win them flying lessons.
Invented by the founder of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz, FLUGTAG, which is German for “flying day,” first warmed the hearts of Austrians in 1991 before coming to America in 2002 to be received by thousands of wild fans with open arms and squished Red Bull cans behind their ears. Finally, FLUGTAG is coming to Downtown Miami where 31 teams have been working since last year to perfect their crowd-pleasing, air-savvy aircrafts. Among the 31 contestants are Flying Sun-chaiser, Bonzai Penguin, JIPC Cruzr, Sandbar Flyer, and Empanada Glider – all Miami natives – each bringing their own taste of Miami life to the event.
Flying Sun-chaiser, for example, is a symbol of the great Miamian pastime: lying in the sun. It’s not for sure, but guessing from the name of their plane and the style of the event, they could be flying a lounge chair into the water.
Miami’s diversity also gets major representation at FLUGTAG. “JIPC stands for our collective heritage,” says Frank Andreu from team JIPC Cruzr. “Jewish, Irish, Polish, and Cuban.” Jewish and Cuban, yes. Irish and Polish?
On another note, The Empanada Glider basically says it all. “The classic empanada shape is perfect for a glider-style wing,” Captain Simon Nava says of his aircraft. “I don’t think anyone eats more empanadas than we do!” he says, so he should know.
Not everyone is a fan of the Miami thang though, especially when it comes to University of Miami students. “Our football team beat Miami 31 to 7 last season, when Miami was ranked number 2…it takes more than a Hurricane to intimidate us,” says Chris Tallman of Virginia Tech, who will be flying Hokie Hunt this Saturday.
What else to expect this Saturday: Vatican Air, inspired by The Flying Nun, a flying camel, and a 25 X 30 foot piece of paper to take its final form as a paper airplane at the dock. Strange.
Red Bull says it takes brains to build one and an entirely different body part to pilot it off a 30-foot ramp. I say that other body part is chutzpa.
Linda Hoffman can be contacted LindaNHoffman2@umiami.edu.