Flying Horses, Fireworks, and Wet Togas

What more could a man ask for? Well, there was one slight disappointment. I was reading this week’s Kernel (only published weekly in the summer, and the website may not have caught up with the print version), and read a story about a Kentucky team heading to Chicago for the Flugtag next weekend. What’s a Flugtag, you ask? I didn’t know either.

Those fluent in German might get the translation, “Flying Day”. The Red Bull Flugtag is a series of competitions for man-made, human powered aircraft (launched into a body of water, since there is very little actual “flight” involved), sponsored by Red Bull, “the drink that gives you wings”. The Chicago event next weekend includes a team of five women from Kentucky, including two UK students. Team Pegasus was organized by team captain Karen Boles because “I went to Mardi Gras and drank a lot of Red Bull, and had seen the ads on TV, so I just decided to enter”.

Possibly due to an age/culture gap (old fart syndrome), I’d never even heard of Red Bull. But I immediately jumped to the conclusion that any beverage that “gives you wings”, is consumed in large quantities at Mardi Gras, and inspires young women to build a flying horse and launch it and their toga-clad bodies into a harbor, must be something I need to add to my shopping list. But my trip to the Red Bull website led to the disappointment mentioned above; Red Bull turned out to be just an “energy drink” (Gatorade with a better marketing campaign?)

But, aside from the fact that I won’t be consuming Red Bull, I love the Flugtag concept. I’m half tempted to go to Chicago to watch. Team captain Boles decided on the theme Pegasus and the Vestal Virgins because “Red Bull gives you wings, and we are in the horse capital of the world, so that gives us Pegasus. And … guys like girls in wet togas, so that was the Vestal Virgins.” You gotta admire that kind of thinking.

The team has their own website, complete with photo gallery. The contest is judged on flying distance, creativity, and showmanship. Boles expects high points in showmanship because “guys like girls in wet togas”, and their entry may include pyrotechnics if Chicago doesn’t have some stupid law against it. (What better place to launch fireworks than over a harbor?) She didn’t make any predictions on how far she actually expects Pegasus to fly, but judging from some of the video from previous events, they can’t do much worse than some other entries. And you gotta love that soaring spirit. I also love the comment on their website:

I keep thinking about when I worked for BAE, there was a sign on the production manager’s door that read, “Sometimes you have to shoot the engineer and start production.”

How else would you ever get a flying horse launched?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *