Red Bull Flugtag Sydney 2008

When the first Australian Red Bull Flugtag took to the skies in 2008, I was on site to write press releases as the event unfolded. Producing three fun, punchy releases in feature-article style throughout the event, I interviewed contestants and reported on the highs and lows of the flying machines. Below is the final release for the day.

GIANT FLYING FLOUNDER SWOOPS TO VICTORY
AT RED BULL FLUGTAG

History was made today as mullets came from behind to take first place at the Red Bull Flugtag. An Australian first, the event attracted a whopping 60,000 spectators to Mrs Macquarie’s Point, adjacent to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney.

They were there to see the thrills and spills as individuals of questionable sanity were launched off a 6m platform by their team-mates dressed as characters from South Park and Top Gun, plus mice and butterflies.

The “Flying machines”, as they were euphemistically called, ranged from a Lego bi-plane, to an ACME rocket and giant box-kite, which predictably plummeted into the Harbour to great cheers from the crowd.

As papier-mâché fighter planes and a helicopter were shot down, the surprises kept coming. Proving that time flies when you’re having fun, Team Time Warp executed an “elongated drop”, managing 11.8m with their sturdy, wingless clock. Meanwhile, favourites for distance da Vinci Red Squadron came unstuck, and Dirt Action bit the dirt. Pilot Stuart Anderson said, “It felt a lot higher once we were up there. The impact was pretty good when I hit the water, good for the face. Hit me again, would ya?”

While there were some spectacular falls, there were also some flights of fancy, including Sam Becomes A Man, who glided to 18.2m beneath a tarpaulin wing, and Eagle Boys, a giant pizza slice (with extra cheese) that reached 13.7m.

Touchdown in Sydney
Although Australia’s premiere event fell short of the 60m Red Bull Flugtag record set in Austria, length isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to these flying machines. The clever, crafty and downright crazy contraptions were judged yesterday on their creative merit, with Temora Supermarines impressing the judges the most with their mean looking Grey Nurse WWII bomber.

The judging panel, including Qantas captain Chris Manning and Tourism Minister Hon Matthew Brown, gave the nod to Double Plugger, who surprised the crowd with their superbly choreographed pre-flight entertainment and took third place with their flying thong.

While it looked like Sam Becomes A Man were going to be hard to beat, a motley crew of mullet-wearing fishermen reeled in a victory with their giant flying flounder. Although the fish swam better than it flew, the flounder proved to be an all rounder and took the crown.

Pilot Roland Kenway, from Sydney’s Sylvania, said, “We weren’t sure we were going to make it – yesterday was a nightmare. We brought the craft in on an open truck, risking low-hanging trees and wires. It wanted to take off while we were on the road and we ended up driving at 35km/h for four hours.”

Of the flight, which reached 14.5m, Roland said, “It flew well and felt very buoyant in the air. I couldn’t see the water, just fish all round and I thought at one point, ‘How long is this going to last’. Then I hit the water. I feel a bit like I jumped off a one-storey building onto my bum, but it was worth it.”

“This has been the most incredible day, we can’t believe we won the Red Bull Flugtag. Go Red Bull, go Flugtag! We’ll be back!” he added

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