Ready for take-off

Ready for take-off

Wannabe pilots had a chance to take to the skies, with mixed results

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The team We Come in Peace is about to make a splash.
The team We Come in Peace is about to make a splash.
Photo: Edward Wong/SCMP

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Rodrigo Cubedo, Leon Kwok and Samu Teittinen of The Crash Stache.
Rodrigo Cubedo, Leon Kwok and Samu Teittinen of The Crash Stache.
Photo: Bruce Yan/SCMP

Humans have always dreamed of flying, but helicopters or giant jumbo jets just aren't enough for some people.

More than 40 teams gathered at Victoria Harbour on Sunday to try out their own, human-powered "flying machines" as part of the Red Bull Flugtag. The challenge is simple: design a flying machine, with no engine, and fly it as far as you can. But with limited resources, the only real question is how long it takes to crash into the water.

One of the teams of pilot-wannabes, The Crash Stache, gave a clue of what to expect in their name. The team included university exchange students from Finland, Mexico and the United States. The members were united by a common love of facial hair.

"We decided to pick out the common characteristic we all shared: the fact that we all had a moustache and beard," said pilot Leon Kwok Tsz-long.

Because the team couldn't find sponsorship, they ended up using cheap, recyclable materials they found in bins.

"We expect to be able to stay in the air for only four to five seconds," said Kwok. "But it doesn't matter as we joined because we all love designing things."

Another team, Tin Lam Go Go, was named after team founder Sion Yip Yee-cheong's two-year-old son. He hoped the event would be a chance to show his son that nothing is impossible.

The team's plane featured clouds, a rainbow and the Disney character Dumbo, in memory of the team's schooldays. The members have been friends for more than 10 years.

But others were taking the Flugtag more seriously. The team (meaning "Four Guys Assembling") consisted of four architects who were the masterminds behind the Rising Moon lantern display made out of 7,000 recycled bottles in Victoria Park last Mid-Autumn Festival.

Their greatest obstacle was meeting the competition requirements. The team had to modify their design several times throughout the building process to meet the 100kg weight limit.

"At first, our machine was overweight and we had to trim down some materials in order to stay within the range," said team leader Stanley Siu Kwok-kin.

The team got their idea from a cartoon.

"There used to be a Japanese manga cartoon where six characters would merge to form one big robot. We thought it would be fun to base our idea around that," said Siu.

They had planned to put on a show before their attempt, in which the members combine to form one robot. The Flugtag isn't judged only on flight distance, but also creativity of design and showmanship.

In the end, a team of designers from Outsign.Lab took first place, gliding their plane several metres before plunging into the water. But from the happy smiles and loud cheers of the crowd, it seems like everyone had a good time and is ready for more flying next year.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Ready for take-off

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