Red Bull Flugtag brought many things to Long Beach on Saturday: the Spruce Goose, the Jetsons, the Flintstones and more than 105,000 spectators. The crowd was so enormous that the 710 freeway’s exit ramp to the area was closed, all parking garages were at capacity and traffic was gridlocked throughout the downtown area. The hundreds of thousands that secured a spot were rewarded with the spectacle of human flight as 34 teams launched their crafts off a 30-foot flight deck in an attempt to defy gravity.
Girl power ruled the day as team Peepin’ it Real floated into first place with a flight distance of 98 feet. The all-female team from Newport Beach, who are students at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and UCLA, beat out teams comprised of mechanical and aerospace engineers, U.S. Navy rescue divers and The Coast Guard.
Team pilot Corinne Schnieders admitted that “This was probably the most fun I’ve ever had. My flight was much smoother than I’d imagined. I just floated down and landed like a marshmallow.”
“It was peeptastic!” added teammate Suzy Strutner. For claiming first place, team Peepin’ it Real will be headed to Arizona for a flight with Red Bull Air Race World Champion Kirby Chambliss at his "Flying Crown Ranch."
In second place was eco-friendly team Green Machine from Las Vegas, and in third was team Airforce One, who sailed into the harbor on an 8-foot tall paper mache head modeled after President Obama. The coveted People’s Choice Award went to Green Army Men, who, despite the heat, stayed in their eye-catching head-to-toe green army men costumes the entire day.
Red Bull Flugtag, which means “flying day” in German, is a competition that dares both the brave and the brainy to design, build and pilot homemade flying machines off a 30-foot high ramp in hopes of achieving human-powered flight. While the teams let their imaginations soar, there were still a few rules in the sky. First off, all flying machines had to be entirely human-powered (no external energy sources or stored power). And, no matter what they say, size does matter, as all crafts had to weigh no more than 450 lbs (including the pilot).
While distance was definitely important, the crafts were also judged on two other criteria –creativity and showmanship – by a panel of celebrity judges including actor Cheech Marin, Dave “The King of Mexico” Sanchez from KROQ’s The Kevin and Bean Show, actress Nicole Sullivan, professional skateboarder Ryan Sheckler and “The Bachelor Pad” reality star Tenley Molzahn.
Sheckler, who opened the event by launching himself off the flight deck on his skateboard, said, “This was amazing! We got a ton of people to show up and there were some really great crashes.” Cheech Marin said simply, “Red Bull Flugtag. Is. Good.”
The first Red Bull Flugtag was held in Vienna in 1991. Since then, more than 80 Red Bull Flugtags have been held around the world – from London to San Francisco – attracting up to 300,000 spectators at one event! The international flight distance record now stands at 207 feet and was just set in Minneapolis/St. Paul on July 24, 2010, after having stood for eight years!
This is the third Red Bull Flugtag event in the US this summer after stops in Miami and Minneapolis/St. Paul earlier this year. Red Bull Flugtag is making its final US stop of the year in Philadelphia on September 4th. Red Bull Flugtag Long Beach will also be featured in a reality series called “On the Wings of Glory” airing Sundays after baseball starting September 5th on FOX Sports Networks.