Bad news for all you slow pokes and Cuban time procrastinators -- you've missed your chance at this year's epic flying adventure known as Flugtag. This week, Red Bull announced the 33 carefully chosen teams competing in Miami's September event, and they run the gamut from manatees with wings to flying kangaroos to strippers.
Out of the lot, 14 teams are from South Florida, and they've got some tales to tell. Cultist caught up with a couple of the groups for sneak peeks at their machine designs, deets on strategy, and other insider info. Check it out after the jump.
Manatee Grew Wings are as local as they come. Their flying seacow will be piloted by 51-year-old Dan Vesce, owner of V.C. Associates (general contractors) and Miami Dade College engineering student. The team consists of five other members hand-picked by Vesce, from a father and son team to fellow students.
"Since the Flugtag 2013 is in the Bay, we thought it would be great to use the manatee for fun since it's a native. Plus manatees are pretty big, and after drinking a Red Bull we will see the big manatee fly to the moon. And win the 2013 Miami Flugtag," Vesce says.
As far as strategy, they're prepared. "The four main things to remember; lift, thrust, weight, and drag. We have designed a craft that will be all of these. The size of the body will be just the amount of weight to fly with the wings we are engineering. The thrust will be our wings on the craft. The back tail will be the lift of our craft, and the front fins will be used for having no drag. This should help our team fly to the moon."
Their name is more than just a hilarious visual. Apparently, it stems from an old tale about a manatee in Miami that grew wings and flew to the moon. (Probably a wise idea. No crazy ladies trying to ride 'em up there.)
While they're not from South Florida, the The Kangaroo Express Salute Our Troops team is working for one hell of a cause. Ahead of the event, the crew will travel to 160 locations nationwide raising awareness for their fundraising campaign that funnels dollars to the USO and other worthy military support organizations. They'll also be scooping up notes of encouragement that they'll later use to decorate their craft.
Spearheaded by the convenience retailer, the group is all about the enlisted.
"Kangaroo Express' military roots run deeper than the water below the 30-foot Flugtag ramp. More than one-third of the company's associates have a direct connection to the military as veterans or family members serving in the armed forces, and more than half of its stores are located within 25 miles of a military installation," a company rep says.
And when it comes to flier design, they've got military tradition on their side.
"The CG-4A Glider design does not prioritize aesthetics or longevity, two items that not so coincidentally may be missing from any given Flugtag. In fact, the gliders were often abandoned or destroyed after landing. Most famously employed in the invasion of France on D-Day, the gliders dropped off British airborne troops in Axis-held Sicily. Despite a design meant to reduce strategic materials made of cloth, plywood and steel tubing, each CG-4A could carry 13 troops and their equipment, including jeeps, trailers and anti-tank supplies."
While this incarnation will likely be cargo-free, it's hard to go wrong with a military model. Their pilot also happens to be a hero. Staff Sergeant (SSG) Tommy Rieman is a Silver Star and Purple Heart recipient with more than 14 years of service in the U.S. Army.
Staff Sargeant Tommy Rieman
Courtesy of Red Bull
And according to the team, "During Operation Iraqi Freedom, SSG Rieman distinguished himself by acts of conspicuous gallantry and courage under fire, using his own body to shield his team members while under ambush by a well-armed numerically superior force."
We're betting that 28-foot drop won't phase this dude.
In addition to these two, other participating teams include O'Daly's magical mustache ride, Flying Phinatics, Stiletto Stampede (representing Tootsie's) and Cuban Missile Crisis.
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Looks like this year's groups are gonna make one hell of a splash. Of course, we're hoping they'll fly first.
Stay tuned for more updates on Flugtag competitors and event plans. The Flugtag takes place on September 21 in Bayfront Park.