Daredevils attempt to jet off harbour on homemade aircraft at Red Bull Flugtag

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 May, 2014, 6:51pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 November, 2014, 3:49pm

They were far from being magnificent men in their flying machines - and most ended up in the drink.

Dozens of funky "flying machines" took off from a purpose-built ramp on the Central harbourfront yesterday in the vain hope of achieving airborne glory in the Red Bull Flugtag.

Watch: Funky homemade aircraft take off into harbour in Hong Kong

Four years since the first event was held in West Kowloon it returned to the city, attracting thousands of spectators and a record-breaking number of participants hoping to "fly across to Tsim Sha Tsui".

Most of the flying machines nosedived into the harbour, but this didn't dampen the spirits of the 43 contestants, some displaying a social message, while others were there just for fun.

The carnival-like event was an exhibition of colourful flying machine designs, some with political messages and others just downright bizarre.

"Our main goal really wasn't to fly far but to make a statement," said Tsang Tak-hing, 24, who led team Snail Palace. One team member was left with a bloody nose for his efforts.

Their "snail house" was designed to symbolise the plight of young people in Hong Kong struggling to buy a home amid sky-high property prices.

Others were more serious about the technicalities of flight. Rex Chan Ka-tsun, 30, of team Mario Break, was one of the few pilots who actually managed to become airborne.

His team's retro video game-themed machine managed to nab second place in the contest for a total flying distance of 18 metres.

"I actually felt I was gliding but when I tried to pull the machine upwards I was already hitting the water," Chan said. "It felt good. It felt like an eternity."

Outsign.Lab, a team of designers who took first place, managed to glide their flying-head design a few metres in the air before plunging into the harbour. Their flying machine flew a distance of just seven metres but scored more points for their creative 30-second pre-flight show.

"I know there were many who took this [competition] very seriously. For us, it was really just about the enjoyment," said team member Sam Chan Po-sing.

Flugtag, German for "flying day", is held in 44 countries.

Contestants are judged on flight distance, creativity and showmanship. Each flying machine must measure no more than six metres in length and width, and weigh less than 100 kilograms.