Touch the sky in Pitts­burgh

The theme of sum­mer 2017 in the City of Cham­pi­ons is high-fly­ing fun.

Metro USA (New York) - - Travel - ED CONDRAN

With apolo­gies to Bos­ton, Pitts­burgh was the first City of Cham­pi­ons. Penn­syl­va­nia’s ris­ing city has been reach­ing for sport­ing glory since the Civil War and was the site of the first-ever foot­ball game in 1892.

Sit­ting at the in­ter­sec­tion of three rivers also means Pitts­burgh has tons of wa­ter-based sports. In Au­gust, both en­thu­si­asts and pro­fes­sion­als will come out to play dur­ing the an­nual Three Rivers Re­gatta, which will be held from Aug. 4-6.

Red Bull Flug­tag

The fes­ti­val’s main event will be the Red

Bull Flug­tag, a unique and un­pre­dictable event that would make the Wright broth­ers gasp. Ev­ery year, the brave com­peti­tors of Flug­tag, which means “fly­ing day” in Ger­man, have a chance to re­write avi­a­tion his­tory as their stag­ger­ing va­ri­ety of air­craft take off from the 22-foot-high “flight deck.” Dis­tance trav­eled, cre­ativ­ity of the craft and show­man­ship make up the cri­te­ria for Flug­tag teams, with each event at­tract­ing up to 300,000 spec­ta­tors.

The con­cepts are left of cen­ter at Flug­tag, to say the least. In re­cent years, avi­a­tors have cre­ated fly­ing tacos, ptero­dactyls and even Win­neba­gos with wings. Rel­a­tively con­ven­tional air­craft, such as Snoopy and his pals, have graced the skies as well.

Show­man­ship counts. Par­tic­i­pants of­ten sport out­ra­geous cos­tumes, cre­ate their own skits and make their own sound­tracks.

Will the cur­rent world record of 258 feet set in 2013 in Long Beach, Cal­i­for­nia, be eclipsed? Be in Pitts­burgh on Aug. 5 to find out, when more than 40 teams will seek their for­tunes in the sky — or meet a wa­tery end.

Three Rivers Re­gatta

There is more to the week­end-long wa­ter

fes­ti­val than these grav­ity-de­fy­ing dare­dev­ils. This year marks the 40th an­niver­sary of the Three Rivers Re­gatta,

with tons of power­boats pro­vid­ing plenty of high-speed ac­tion to spec­ta­tors along Point State Park along with jet ski stunt shows, a mu­sic fes­ti­val and a float­ing pa­rade of lights af­ter dusk.

When you’re hun­gry, walk a short dis­tance to Roberto Cle­mente Bridge, where an ar­ray of food trucks await with ev­ery­thing from Pitts­burgh’s sig­na­ture piero­gies to pizza. There will also be a mar­ket­place and, to con­tinue with the theme of hit­ting the heights, you can take a ride on the Wheel of Lights, a gi­ant gon­dola Fer­ris wheel.

Sight­see­ing from above

The best way to ex­pe­ri­ence Pitts­burgh is also from the sky, though not on Flug­tag. Head to the top of the city cour­tesy of its two fu­nic­u­lars. Board the Duquesne

In­cline for a spec­tac­u­lar view of the city’s three rivers and more as the car clicks up­ward from Pitts­burgh’s South­side neigh­bor­hood. Af­ter peak­ing at 800 feet, step out and gaze at the stun­ning gate­way to the city’s Golden Tri­an­gle (more com­monly known as the heart of Down­town Pitts­burgh).

Back on the ground

If you would like to ex­pe­ri­ence flight from an­other per­spec­tive, check out The Na­tional

Aviary. The na­tion’s only in­door non­profit zoo is home to more than 500 birds, 150 of which are threat­ened or en­dan­gered. Don’t miss the strik­ing hy­acinth macaw and the green­backed tro­gon, and of course the play­ful African pen­guins. Make some new friends in the lori­keet ex­hibit by pur­chas­ing a cup of nec­tar.

The tech-minded kids (and adults!) hang out at the Carnegie Science Cen­ter. The Sportsworks side of the fa­cil­ity of­fers nearly 30 in­ter­ac­tive ex­pe­ri­ences in the cat­e­gories of LifeWorks, Physics of Sports and Sports Chal­lenge. Scale a 25-foot rock climb­ing wall, or don some se­ri­ous climb­ing gear and hit the 21-foot zero grav­ity wall. If you love a thrill ride, hang on as you ride the sim­u­lated roller coast­ers.

DUQUESNE IN­CLINE

Take the Duquesne In­cline for a pic­turesque view of the Pitts­burgh sky­line and great views at the top.

RED BULL CON­TENT POOL

The brave par­tic­i­pants in the Red Bull Flug­tag try to defy grav­ity with the most cre­ativ­ity pos­si­ble.

FACE­BOOK

Meet Fawkes the golden pheas­ant at The Na­tional Aviary.

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