Maryland Flyers

Yesterday was Flugtag in Baltimore, and the harbor was absolutely packed with people for it. For the uninitiated, here’s the quick explanation: teams build “flying machines” with a wingspan up to thirty feet, weighing up to 450 pounds. They do a little performance on the launch pad, and then push the whole mess off the end into a body of water and try to make it go as far as they can.

This time round, the body of water was Baltimore’s inner harbor, and the “as far as they can” was up to 81 feet (for one team - the new record in the US). The whole thing was hilarious - one team of firefighters did a dance to Disco Inferno before hauling their massive fireman’s helmet off the ramp. Another team had a giant Dumbo that didn’t quite make it off the ramp, but fell apart and rained pieces (almost) right into the guy who had been “piloting” it before he fell off into the water (as far as I know, he didn’t get hit with anything). Some of them went really well - most of them were designed like some kind of glider, and the winning team (a Three Stooges-themed group) even made theirs glide for a bit. A team that came all the way from Bulgaria had a big blow-up glider sort of thing, and they probably would have done well if the cross-wind didn’t interfere with their take-off (they got stuck halfway down the runway).

I don’t know if Flugtag will be coming back this way again any time soon, but if it does, I want to get a team together. You spend about three weeks building a machine that can fly (or at least float, so they can get it out of the water easier), and it’s all over in the three seconds it takes to drop from the 30-foot launch ramp. How can that NOT be fun?