Tradition holds sway as creative minds attempt to soar sky high

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 August, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 August, 2010, 12:00am

The city's creative types have turned to traditional themes such as dragons, Chinese vampires and mooncakes for inspiration when they are designing weird and wacky flying machines for Asia's first Red Bull Flugtag, scheduled for October 10 at the West Kowloon Heliport.

Contestants of the Flugtag - German for 'flying day' - will have about five minutes each to take off in their man-made and man-powered flying machines from a six-metre high, 30-metre-long ramp leading either to an unlikely flight or an almost certain splashdown into the sea.

Some designs are based on dragons, dragon boats and Chang Er, the legendary lady who inhabits the moon and a figure in the Mid-Autumn Festival folklore. All the entries are from Hong Kong.

But one entry caught the attention of the organisers who have to pick between 35 and 45 finalists out of more than 200 submissions: a sketch of a Chinese junk-shaped machine emblazoned with the government's much-derided 'Act Now' political reform campaign.

'One of the designs that got us all cracked up was the Act Now ship,' a Red Bull spokesman said.

The Act Now design was submitted by a group of twentysomethings - the age group seen to take a radical stand on political and social issues, such as the development of high-speed rail links and political reform.

Contestants have about two months to build their machines, which will be stored in a rented hangar before the Flugtag. The October 10 event will start at noon and is expected to attract more than 20,000 spectators. Organisers are expected to invite local celebrities like comedy outfit CB Fresh.

The first Red Bull Flugtag was held in the Austrian capital of Vienna in 1991.

Since then, many cities around the world, from San Francisco to Istanbul, have hosted the event.

Although the aim of this popular event is not to actually fly the machines, a new Red Bull Flugtag record was set on July 24 in the US, when the craft from Team Major Trouble and the Dirty Dixies from Minnesota flew 63 metres at the event in St Paul, Minnesota.

Over the years, aspiring aviators in Hong Kong have attempted to literally spread their wings in the local Birdman flying competition, which sees contestants in costumes strap on man-made wings and launch themselves off a pier into the water.

On the wing

In metres, the Flugtag record distance flown by a team during an event in St Paul, Minnesota, in July: 63