(“Flying day” heißt auf Deutsch Flugtag).
Flugtag is German for “flying day”.
On, this particular “flying day”, the contestants of Red Bull’s Flugtag Singapore fought against high winds, ebbing tides, a searing sun and the notion that Singaporeans are boring.
Julius Yang from Flugtag team The Alchemy Partnership described Singaporeans as “a repressed bunch (thanks to all the rules, regulations, policies and laws that’s in place in this country)”. Which made me wonder, then why is it that their country’s mascot is half-lion, half-fish hybrid?
the mythical Merlion
Despite their dour reputation, Red Bull still chose Singapore to host its first Southeast Asian Flugtag event. It’s a preposterous competition. Teams submit and then build home-made designs for unpowered flying machines to be launched on flying day, complete with pilots, into the sky (and eventually, sometimes rather quickly), into the water. Winners are determined by a panel of four judges who take into account originality, flight distance and pre-flight performance – the teams have 30 seconds to entertain the crowds before launching their craft.
The “boring Singaporeans” built flying durian fruit, an anvil, a mushiki of cha siu baos complete with real steam, a chicken made entirely from egg cartons, a giant rubber duckie, a purple psychedelic pigeon party… the list goes on. The pre-flight performances were entertaining, the best ones given by contestants who had overblown costumes visible to the distant crowd.
“Kings of Fruit” launch their aerodynamic durian!
“Char Siew Pows” pre-flight performance, complete with steam and Victoria‘s Secret wings!
No points for guessing whether or not it flew…
Many of the contending entries were more focussed on being entertaining than creating an aerodynamic craft. The clear crowd favourite was team ERP – ERP being Electronic Road Pricing, Singapore’s road toll system. There were cries of joy and elation as the mock gateway was symbolically thrust into the sea.
The crowd goes wild as a replica of Singapore’s toll gateway is tossed into the drink
A score of 9, 9, 10, 9 – from a bunch of thoroughly stingy judges – was cause for team ERP to celebrate!
Entertaining also was Red Bull’s unconcealed efforts to disassociate itself with almost-neighbours Thailand’s Red Bull. “Made in Europe”, signs were everywhere, with continued deliberate reference to the slim blue and silver cans (as opposed to the gold Thai ones.) Obviously not wanting to be confused with those ill-reputed, (apparently) amphetamine-laced golden cans!
If it weren’t for the judges, a panel of assorted wet blankets who gave out 1s, 2s and 3s like pamphlets in a Singaporean shopping mall, the “boring” title may have gone some way to being renounced. After ERP‘s score of 9, 9, 10, 9, there was much confusion when the winner was announced – the victorious team, The Super Sevens launched a craft in the shape of an… aeroplane. Granted, their design was good… but it was no flying durian! Subsequent comments on the Flugtag website echoed this sentiment –
“Very disappointed with the results. What are the criteria for judging anyway? I didn’t see anything special with the winner.” — Steven
“Not to take it away from Super 7s, who probably put in a lot of time and effort… but they neither flew the furthest (which is a product of how technically advanced and flight proof the crafts were) OR had the best showmanship OR creative plane.” —Mis.Judged
the judges’ decision went down a bit like this craft
In the true spirit of sport, most concerned seemed more focussed on the fun of it than on winning the prizes (which included European holidays and skydiving packages.) At least the rubber duckie came second.
Ever been to a Flugtag event? What do you think of the Red Bull event? Post your comments below!
P.S. Mein Dank gilt dem unbekannten Schönen, dessen Weisheit mir die deutschen Worte bescherte…