116,000 San Franciscans Cheer on the Spectacle of Human-Powered Flight at McCovey Cove Red Bull Flugtag brought many things to San Francisco today: sugar skulls, sharks, smurfs, 'stashes and more than 116,000 spectators. The thousands that secured a spot in or around McCovey Cove were rewarded with the spectacle of human flight as 32 teams launched their crafts off of a 30-foot flight deck in an attempt to defy gravity. The event marked the 10-year U.S. anniversary, with Red Bull Flugtag returning to the city where it was first held in 2002 - San Francisco. After the final flight took to the skies, Team Movember landed in first place with a distance of 54 feet, Sugar Skull 138 came in second, Team Skyjackers took third and The Californauts were awarded the People's Choice award.
The "hair up there" proved to be a successful team theme for the fuzzy fraternity brothers as they simultaneously raised awareness for men's health and secured the first place finish. The moustacheinspired craft took a nice glide off of the flight deck and finished with a smooth landing. The pilot, William Hinkamp, said, "the best part was the build-up to the flight, because the execution takes all but a few minutes." He continued, "coming from the hangar area and then all the way up the ramp builds the tension, gets you excited, gets your adrenaline pumping and that's what it's all about." For claiming first place, the mustachioed members of Team Movember will take their love of human flight to the next level as they skydive alongside the Red Bull Air Force. The "mo-bros" weren't the only team getting hang-time as teams came from as far as Tempe, Chicago and San Diego.
Not far behind the whiskery winners and coming in second place was team Sugar Skull 138 which included two members of San Francisco Firefighters I.A.F.F. Local 798, and in third place was taco-tastic Team Skyjackers. The crowd voted via text message for the People's Choice Award and chose The Californauts, who also wowed the crowd in 2011's Red Bull Soapbox Race in Los Angeles. The second place team will get to sail the seas with ORACLE TEAM USA in their chase boat, the third place team will test their wings (again) indoor skydiving with a member of the Red Bull Air Force at iFly and the People's Choice winners will win a fiesta with 15 of their closest friends.
The final flight of the day was by ORACLE TEAM USA's craft "Spirit of 17" which was built using parts of their AC72 wing sail which was damaged when it capsized during the team's training on October 16. The "Spirit of 17" fared well as the final flight of the day, reaching a distance of 39 feet, but the team wasn't eligible to place in the competition because skipper, Jimmy Spithill, was a Red Bull Flugtag judge. Also judging were Live 105 Morning DJ Menace, "The Bachelor" reality star Ben Flajnik, music legend Sheila E and Olympian Alysia Montaño.
"Red Bull Flugtag is such an awesome event to be able to bring a bunch of people together and have a great time outside," said Shelia E. "It's great to see people enjoy the event when these teams go out and take the time to really build these aircrafts that only fly for mere seconds!"
Red Bull Flugtag, which means "flying day" in German, is a competition that dares both the brave and the brainy to design, build and pilot homemade flying machines off a 30-foot high ramp in hopes of achieving human-powered flight. While distance was definitely important, the crafts are also judged on two other criteria - creativity and showmanship.