Red Bull’s iconic Flugtag event made its long-awaited return to the US recently at Milwaukee’s Lake Michigan. More than 50,000 spectators gathered on the water's edge to watch 36 human-powered aircraft attempt to fly across the lake (or at least, get some air time) at the first Flugtag event to take place in the Badger State.
In true Milwaukeean style, many of the teams took inspiration from Wisconsin specialities such as hotdogs, bears and tractors when building their aircraft. Each aircraft was judged on three criteria: the creativity and design of their craft, showmanship of their skit and distance travelled after taking off from the 27-foot platform.
Red Bull Flutag veterans Flight For Your Right to Party were crowned champions thanks to their Viking-inspired craft, which managed to glide an impressive 66 feet and get a perfect score of 50 before crashing into the water. The team consists of a group of suburban dads with an affinity for wacky races. Just last month they competed in the Redbull Soapbox Race, where teams build a motorless car to race around a track.
"We feel exhilarated right now," said Scott Rademaker, one of the members of Flight For Your Right to Party. "This will go down as one f the best moments in our lives and it was made even better that we were able to do it together, as best friends. Valhalla!"
In second place came Farmers Unincorporated who managed to travel a not-too-shabby 54 feet in their green pick-up style tractor craft, and third place was awarded to Bear Naked Chonkers whose ursine-themed craft glided 42 feet.
Many of the teams took inspiration from things that make the region unique, including the area’s local convenience crew Kwik Trip – who modeled their craft on a flying version of their beloved banana truck. And Milwaukee’s basketball team inspired the Bucks Rim Rockers who took off in a basketball-shaped aircraft named Airball, and while they didn’t get very far it was an entertaining attempt.
Now in its 30th year, the Red Bull Flugtag started in 1992 over the stunning Danube River in Vienna, Austria, and since then 174 events have taken place in 50 countries and 96 cities. The world record for the longest Flutag flight was set in 2013 by The Chicken Whisperers, who managed to achieve an astonishing 257.5 feet – a record that is proving very hard to beat.