RED BULL FLUG­TAG

Chicago Sun-Times - - WEEKEND - Tri­cia De­spres is a lo­cal free-lance writer.

“Flug­tag is a chance to do some­thing amaz­ing,” says 22-year-old North­west­ern Univer­sity me­chan­i­cal engi­neer­ing stu­dent Matt Dolph, who will pi­lot the Ms. Fiz­zle’s Third Pe­riod air­craft, con­structed solely in the North­west­ern Univer­sity ma­chine shop.

“To me, be­ing a com­peti­tor in Flug­tag is the pin­na­cle of cre­ativ­ity vs. func­tion, and a chance at eter­nal glory. At the end of the day, Flug­tag means a chance to har­ness and dis­play your imag­i­na­tion to the world in a phys­i­cal way.”

The Chicago event will be the first of four flug­tags, with other com­pe­ti­tions oc­cur­ring in Philadel­phia, Miami, and San Fran­cisco later this year. And since the first Red Bull Flug­tag took place in Vi­enna, Aus­tria, in 1991, a num­ber of fly­ing records have been made. The cur­rent record is 228 feet held by a Ger­man team from this

11a.m. (flights be­gin at 1 p.m.), Septem­ber 8

North Av­enue Beach, West La Salle Drive, Chicago Free Visit www.red­bullflug tagusa.com year’s com­pe­ti­tion in Mainz, Ger­many. The record for the far­thest flight in the U.S. cur­rently stands at 207 feet and was set at Red Bull Flug­tag St. Paul, Minn., in 2010 by team Ma­jor Trou­ble and the Dirty Dix­ies.

“None of us re­ally know what we are do­ing,” laughs Dolph, whose craft is based on the chil­dren’s book and TV show “The Magic School Bus.” “Once we launch, we are just hop­ing for the lift we will get from our wings. Of course, we also made a call to some friends we have at Boe­ing for some ad­vice. Who knows what will hap­pen? We just ba­si­cally saw an op­por­tu­nity and ran with it.”

Un­for­tu­nately, many of the crafty air­crafts will find their ul­ti­mate fate via the ev­er­com­mon back flip or nose dive just sec­onds be­fore they ul­ti­mately crash into Lake Michi­gan.

“Yep, I’m not look­ing for­ward to see­ing all of the work we put into this thing sink,” said Har­vesty, laugh­ing, who hints that his team mem­bers just might be dressed up as flies. “But we have high hopes. I put on our ap­pli­ca­tion that our big­gest chal­lenge will be fly­ing too far. Ac­cord­ing to our cal­cu­la­tions, we should be land­ing in the Grand Rapids area.”

He’s jok­ing, right?

| WES BOLTON PHOTO

Team Red Frog mem­ber Terry McMa­hon con­structs its new fly­ing ma­chine for 2012 Chicago Flug­tag.

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