It was a stunning day In Boston today for the Red Bull Flugtag competition, the very first time it was held in our city. It was also incredibly popular with crowd estimates close to 30,000. We thought it might be well-attended so we arrived quite early to find lines snaking down Storrow Drive past Mass. General Hospital.
We had enough time to hang out and chat with some of the participants who were cleary embracing their roles as each of the 30 teams competing had a strong theme. "Flugtag" is a German word, we learned, that translates to "Flight Day" and this is a serious competitive sport all over the world.
As luck would have it we were able to tuck ourselves in right beside the Judges Tent, probably the best view at the event.
The pier right in front of us was filled with media including underwater and swimming cameramen meaning that whenever the judges held up their cards the cameras swept over us, too.
Of course, we would have loved being high atop the ramp with our cameras for a while. Then again, it wouldn't have been the best view when all those contraptions headed directly into the drink.
The opening began with Rene Rancourt (who else?) singing the National Anthem as a hush fell over the crowd.
Then, out of the sky, two Red Bull parachutists spiraled over the Charles River, falling at the rate of 60 mph at one point, as we've seen them do at other Red Bull events we've attended. They are military-trained ex-servicemen, the first making a stunning landing right onto the ramp hitting his target perfectly.
Most participants were pushed off the ramp only to see their flying machines completely fall apart or freefall right into the water.
This Swanboat team received what was probably the loudest applause as their design swan-dived into the cold water. The visual, however, was beautiful!
Each team selected three members who had to jump off the ramp into the water to assist the boat teams who swooped in to pick up the pieces. In some cases there were a LOT of pieces.
We had high hopes for the Flying Bananas, the team of M. I. T. nerds who spent two months working out the physics and engineering of their design.
Yeah, the genius team proved their reputation. The crowd roared as their design broke in half in one half of one second after leaving the ramp. (Do the math: If Johnny is traveling at ... okay forget it).
And, YES, some of them actually flew! It was a great day, great weather and great fun ranking right up there with our airship flight over Boston last summer. Who needs Indy cars and Olympics, anyway?