On Saturday the Cumberland River will turn into a showcase of homemade flying machines that will launch off a 30-foot flight deck with the hopes of gaining a few yards of airtime before plummeting into the river. The yearly event, known as the Red Bull Flugtag, takes place in two cities each year, with this year’s Flugtags scheduled in Nashville and Pittsburgh.
The tagline for Red Bull’s energy drinks is “Red Bull gives you wings” and they take that literally with the annual Flugtag events. Flugtag means “flying day” in German, and that is essentially what this day is: a competition of home-made flying machines. The event started in Vienna, Austria in 1992 and since then over 100 Flugtags have been held in more than 35 cities around the world, some attracting up to 300,000 spectators.
Contestants must design, build and pilot their flying machines off of a 30-foot flight deck on the river. All flying machines must be completely human powered, so no engines allowed. They also cannot catapult off of the flight deck or have a parachute for the landing. Since the machines will end up in the river, they must be made completely of environmentally friendly materials.