Russia: Crashes Abound in Aircraft Flying Contest


Contestants in Moscow's Red Bull Flugtag contest had little more than a wing and a prayer on Sunday (July 28) as their home-made aircraft in the shapes of everything from nursery rhyme and video game characters to famous French actors came crashing into a river in north Moscow.

The Flugtag contest, translated from German as "flight day" brought costumed contestants from as far away as St. Petersburg to try their skills as aircraft designers and aviators.

Teams build a flying apparatus with three criteria in mind: how far it will fly, creativity and artistry.

On contest day, teams are also judged by a short performance on the takeoff ramp.

Edgar from Ivanovo, about 150 miles outside of Moscow, said hometown pride spurred him to compete.

"For the first thing, we're from the town of Ivanovo, our team. We're taking part for the first time. Ivanovo has never been here. We decided to show that Ivanovo can do it too. There's our apparatus. (It's) happy, positive to try it, to beat, although local, the record for flight," he said.

Alexandra, a medical doctor from St. Petersburg, said she was just in the contest to have fun.

"Our apparatus is an owl. We expect, firstly, that we will participate worthily and give pleasure to ourselves and the audience," Alexandra said.

Yulia, who was dressed as a French policeman, escorted her apparatus "Frenchman on a passport" - a large head in the likeness of French actor Gerard Depardieu sitting on a Russian passport - toward the takeoff ramp.

"We did practically everything ourselves, and we are really worried. Our team is the very best, and we hope that we will fly really far. In theory, that's it," she said.

Hundreds of spectators in overcast weather watched as a rubber ducky, a fuzzy sheep, and all manner of aircraft careened towards the water.

Organisers said in Russia, where the contest has run for 13 years, the participation and creativity is staggering.

"I think that the Red Bull Flugtag in the last 13 years differs from today only in that there are a lot more teams - 37. We hope that more people come to watch, in spite of the weather, but we see people are coming. And the most important thing is to show that interesting, creative people live in Russia, who definitely love to move forward."

The contest started in Vienna in 1992 and now plays out annually in more than 100 locations.

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