Tuesday, September 10, 2013 , Updated 12:00 p.m., September 20, 2013
Flying nerds to battle at national flugtag competition in Las Colinas
What the what?
LAS COLINAS As fall quickly approaches, so will 30 teams of adrenaline junkies and uber-nerds from across the country, as the first-ever National Red Bull Flugtag will take place September 21 on Lake Carolyn in Las Colinas.
Dallas is one of several cities hosting the event that day, as others will also take flight in Washington, D.C.; Long Beach, Calif.; Miami, Fla.; and Chicago, Ill. It's the first time a flugtag (translated from German means, "flying day") has ever taken place in multiple cities in any country. The first Red Bull Flugtag took place in 1991 in Vienna, Austria.
Hundreds of individuals submitted their ideas, and the 30 most unique and creative crafts were chosen to put their ingenuity to the test. These five-person teams will build homemade, human-powered flying aircrafts that they will launch off a 30-foot-high flight deck above the water in hopes of their flight. The goal is get their craft to fly the farthest and break the American Red Bull Flugtag record of 207 feet.
First-place winners receive a skydiving opportunity with the Red Bull Air Force.
The flight hangar at the Las Colinas Urban Center will open to the public at 11 a.m., with the contest commencing at 1 p.m. The winner will be crowned at 5 p.m.
Teams are also required to dress in costume and perform a skit, and are judged on three criteria: flight length, creativity and showmanship. The more outrageous the costume, the more points they gain. Crafts in the DFW competition include a flaming Big Tex, a flying Pegasus unicorn (or a Pegacorn), a space shuttle and Elvis, among others.
One of the teams is led by Plano resident Jason Lavine. The Raytheon engineer got his friends and coworkers on board when one of them suggested they go to the event as spectators.
But with a background in aerospace engineering, Lavine had other things in mind. Thanks to a lot of crunch time and financial backing from sponsors, team Scientists for Hypotenuses was born.
"Because we're engineers and nerds like that, we're goofy but not goofy enough to really be goofy," Lavine said. "We're just going to win the competition; we're going to have the best flying thing one can design."
One challenge to the competition is the inability to test the aircraft. Aside from strength-balance checks, there really isn't much one can do to ensure it flies successfully. All one can do is depend on blueprints, Lavine said.
"There's no real way to do a test because the plane is designed for one flight," he said. "It's in the air for about seven seconds off a 30-foot platform, and the cart flies away into the blue yonder."
So far, construction is going swimmingly, as they have a frame intact or, as Lavine called it, a "stick with wings." Combined with their lab coat costumes and 30-second skit/dance to the theme song from CBS's The Big Bang Theory, Lavine is confident their nerdiness will prevail.
"I figure if everything goes right, it's gonna fly," he said jokingly.
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