By Beth Treffeisen
Soaring into the murky waters of the Charles River this past Saturday, teams from around New England sported their wings during the Red Bull Flugtag competition.
Challenging both bravery and brains teams battled it out on homemade flying machines as they launched them off a 28-foot high flight deck in hopes to go the furthest distance before tumbling into the river.
Team ‘Flite-Riot’, a group of professional drone operators from Braintree, Mass., beat out the opposition by soaring their red craft through the air for 69 feet. The team also took home the People’s Choice Award, a fan-favorite award voted on by spectators throughout the event via social media.
“The camaraderie between the different teams, the fellowship, the way everyone intermingled – it really was one of the warmest experiences we have ever been a part of,” said Stefan Ostergren, a member of Team Flite-Riote in a statement.
Team ‘What Sphinx?’ came second with team ‘Something Wonderful’ following in third.
Teams that are made up of five members were judged on three criteria: flight distance, creativity of the craft, and showmanship.
Homemade, human-powered flying machines included a broken down MBTA train, a selfie stick, a majestic dragon, a Fenway Frank and a tribute to the great Boston Hockey Legend Bobby Orr.
During the event, many visitors became frustrated by security measures; there were a limited number of entrances, which created long lines. This led to many fans being backed up for blocks and blocks before they can view the competition.
Flugtag, which means ‘flying day’ in German technically first started in 1992 in Vienna, Austria but unofficial flugtags have been taking place for centuries. Since the first, there have been 35 Red Bull Flugtags held around the world.
Boston’s event had over 200 applicants to compete and only 29 made it through to the event.
The next Flugtag event will take place in Louisville, Kentucky on August 27.
Before history was even made in the Hub, The Boston Sun talked to three local teams to learn how they prepared for the day of competition:
In the backyard of a Brighton house, team Mass Instruction, made up of local Boston Public School teachers gathered together to put the finishing touches on their pencil flying machine.
“Because we are teachers we have to be careful who we find sponsors with,” said Jessie Lazcano an eighth grade math teacher. “It was very grass root. We had to get thrifty and crafty.”
The team started the design and building of the machine back in June. Most of the parts are made up of donated items such as old bikes and found paint. The only thing the teachers had to pay cash for was the aluminum box tubing.
While balancing a hectic work schedule, event though school was out for the kids, the teachers worked together on evenings and weekends out of Artisan’s Asylum in Somverville and in the Brighton backyard to make the flying machine reality.
“I would like to beat other people with unlimited resources,” said Christine Jozitis, a middle school art teacher.
By sticking with it, the team hopes to act as role models to the many students they will welcome back to school in September.
“This is to show how positive risk taking looks like to our kids,” said Lazcano. “It shows that if you work together on a team you can achieve something.”
In Faneuil Hall, team Something Wonderful was preparing for the competition in the companies Lovepop card making studio. Their design features a giant card sitting on top of the plane.
“We’ve been designing the cards by day and building the machine by night,” said Wombi Rose the CEO of Lovepop who has been working on the project for the past few months. “Models have been flying around the office for the last few weeks.”
Made up of a group of ship designers, card engineers, and paper artists Lovepop that are known for succeeding on the ABC show Shark Tank for the famous pop-up greeting cards, Flugtag is their next big challenge to create something unexpected.
The design was built using the same 3D machine that makes their cards. The entire company Rose said has helped in making the glider even though there were only five members flying it.
As for the performance piece, Rose said, “We’ve been practicing the dance just as long as we’ve been building the machine.”
The team name Something Wonderful comes from their new cards that they are soon rolling out on weddings.
“What you will see is a very aggressive Red Bull themed plane that will turn into something resembling love,” Rose said the day before the event. “We have a design element to keep an eye out for because it just might change.”
In the nearby financial district, team Boston Cream Flies out of Motus, LLC Software Company has been working from the CEO down to the sales team to create their giant Boston cream pie flying machine.
The team that is made up of engineers decided to embark on this adventure when their CEO saw the event coming to Boston on a billboard. After a staff meeting, the company got to work designing and creating a traditional cream pie because well, “everyone enjoys pie!”
“Being in Boston is a very exciting competition,” said Ady Das the vice president of product at Motus. “We have MIT on one side and the labs on the other so there is definitely competition.”
Working out of an employee’s garage they adopted the huge project into smaller chunks to be able to fin it inside. Using skills from employees across the a lot of technology went into making the giant pie plate fly on competition day.
“It was fun to have people across the entire company involved,” said Bjorn Mann the manager of front-end development and digital marketing the week before the competition. “We are all super excited!”