Flugtag Day Sponsored By Red Bull

This was the official site for the 2003 Flugtag Day held on the piers in San Francisco. Sponsered by RedBull, teams were challenged to build 'flying machines' and try to fly them over the bay.

Attended by an estimated crowd of 35,000 spectators "Flugtag" (Fly Day in German) was hosted by the sports energy drink company Red Bull. Held as a one-day event on October 25, the weather in San Francisco was an unbelieveable 90 degrees, with perfect blue skies. This event was once again held on piers 30-32, just below the Bay Bridge, using ports on the north side of the docks. This is a genuinely fun event that I attended with friends who had insisted I visit them specifically so we could all attend. My friend Jill is studying for the bar exam - she's interning for a Louisiana maritime law practice, working both in the office as a paralegal while also posting content on their site and managing their internet presence. She's hoping to work as a Louisiana maritime attorney representing maritime workers injured on the job and helping them recover medical and financial support from the large companies that hire them. She's also an avid hang glider so was super psyched for this festival - there were actually a number of hang glider based efforts among the participants. Some seemed realistic, and others were just insane but all were very entertaining. I got to hang with my buds so it was certainly worth the trip. The event was magnificent, hilarious, and down right crazy. Once I was back home life settled down and I enjoyed looking at all the pics and videos I took at Flugtag Day. A moment in time I will never forget!


Saturday October 25, 2003
Pier 30-32
Opens 11AM
First Flight 1PM


It's in! The final teams have been selected to participate in Red Bull Flugtag San Francisco!
So put down your hammers and put on your thinking caps... it's time to check out the competition!
This is the list of all participating teams. Get a first hand look at a truncated number of team bios, blueprints, and the futile plans of those vying for infamy at Red Bull Flugtag!

Flugtag 2003 San Francisco Champions, El Toro Guapo


American Flyer
Around the World
Arseforce One
Bad Medicine
Big Wheel Launcher
Bug Juice
Carriage of Carnage
Da Mayor’s Pimp Hat
Drunk Knights in the Marina
Earhart Express
El Toro Guapo
Fallon’s Flying Butterfly
Fearless Flyer
Flight of the Booty Bee
Fly Ditarod
Lemon Meringue Sky
Lord Drakons Cold Air Zeppelin
Monty Smurf’s Flying Circus
Persian Immersion
Project S.T.O.L.
Psycho Chicken
Red Alert
Rock Lobster
Running of the Red Bulls
Snoop’s Dogg House
Snowy Hella-Skier
Soaring Saguaros
SS Newton
Super Paper Airplane II Turbo
The Amazing Flying Jay Show
The Courage Cannon
Wet Dreamers


Some of the Teams

Team Name:   Red Alert

Pilot:   Alan Tang

Hometown:   San Francisco, CA

To most of us, the name Red Alert brings up images of panic, flashing lights, people running about preparing for some serious crap about to go down. Alan Tang, captain of Team Red Alert, is not like most of us. “We’re named Red Alert because we’re going to have a snowboard with wings,” he explains. Hmm, you might ask what this might have to do with “red” or “alert”? “Oh yeah, we’re going to have something relating to color too, like, a scene.” Yes, sure, a scene relating to color, ok. And is there anything “alerting” about the scene? “No, not really. It’s going to be a bunch of stuff going on, like a combination,” Tang explains. Ok, lets say we’ll just stop there.

As the concept of Team Red Alert is a bit, shall we say, “abstract,” so is the team’s “flying machine.” Protruding from the sides of an old snowboard will be “30 foot wings” and a “tail section.” Three team members will be in front of the Red Alert winged snowboard, each pulling it off the pier then serving as the ballast for a “contraption” that will hoist Tang into the air – and straight into the bay.

If this all sounds a little risqué? Nay! Consider that this team’s previous design was to build a giant cross with wings, mounting Tang Jesus-like to its front, and flinging him into the bay. Sacrilegious and offensive you might say? What’s stranger is that Team Red Alert are all devoted Christians who met through their community church. “Yeah, we thought people might take it the wrong way, like view it as blasphemous.” Hmmm, we have no idea why anyone would think that.

But alas. We digress. We are not hear to talk about previous digressions – we’re hear to talk about how Red Alert plans to win Flugtag with their new craft. “We don’t plan to win,” Tang says in a particularly revealing moment. But do they plan to fly? “Definitely! At least we pray that we will.” And so do we brothers and sisters, so do we.

(Alan Tang, Antonio Xavier, Maggie Chan, Serena Leung, William Kong all live in San Francisco)


Team Name:   Psycho Chicken

Pilot:   Rob Innes

Hometown:   Redding, CA

Anyone who has seen the movie Babe knows the skinny about life on the farm. All animals live in terror of being the next blue plate special, and the very lowest in that morbid pecking order is the chicken. It’s enough to make a bird go bonkers.

The Fools, a Boston-based band, revealed the mental travails of poultry with their 1979 single “Psycho Chicken,” a parody of the Talking Heads hit “Psycho Killer.” And now, two decades and a continent away, Team Psycho Chicken will parody that parody at Red Bull Flugtag San Francisco.

Psycho Chicken – qu’est que c’est? “The song offers clues to those with the patience to study its complex lyrics,” opines team pilot Rob Innes. “For example: ‘Colonel Sanders wants to cook his goose/ but Psycho Chicken is still on the loose.’ Sure, it’s good versus evil. But might it also be an indictment of bio-engineered foodstuffs?” He manages to keep a straight face for about five seconds and then gives the scenario:

A chicken with an expandable, 15-foot wingspan (Innes) is stalked by “Colonel Sanders” (Tom Rowe), and “Farmer Dan” (Dan Piazza). Fearing that he’s next in line to become Extra Crispy, the bird flips out and turns the tables; e.g., the hunters become the hunted. Just before carnage ensues, Psycho Chicken realizes that murdering his tormentors would take him from life in a pen to life in the pen; so he simply wets their appetite by chasing the duo off Pier 30/32.

Actually, the whole team is familiar with flight – in water. The Redding-based buddies design and build “bionic dolphins”: nimble submarines that literally fly though the water. (Dr. Evil used one of their dolphins in Austin Powers in Goldmember. See pictures at www.innespace.com.) Innes isn’t sure the team’s professional skills will translate into hang time for their chicken, but he’s thinking positive: “We are supremely confident that our bionic chicken will fly at least as well as the real thing.”

(The Psycho Chicken team consists of Rob Innes [pilot], Dan Piazza, and Tom Rowe. Although Innes hails originally from New Zealand, all three team members currently reside in Redding, California.)



Team Name:   Drunk Knights in the Marina

Pilot:   Ben Jennings

Hometown:   San Jose, CA

Every San Francisco neighborhood has a unique character. North Beach brims with Italian heritage. The Haight is renowned for its counterculture vibe. And Chinatown is world-famous for, well, Chinese stuff. But the Marina District is the playground of young professionals. The Marina’s grocery store is known as a “meat market” not for its butcher shop, but for the singles trolling its produce department. The Marina, friends, has one simple motto: Work hard. Play harder.

So who better to represent The Marina at Red Bull Flugtag San Francisco than five successful businessmen who’ve spent their formative nights at neighborhood waterholes? We’re talkin’ about guys who are trilingual, if you count “Drunk Fool” as a dialect. We’re talkin’ about guys who aren’t nearly the jackasses this write-up is making them out to be.

Meet Team Drunk Knights in The Marina.

“From extreme sports to extreme partying, we’ve done it all,” says team captain Ben Jennings. “At work or at play, we’re always taking it to the next level.”

Actually, the five friends do a lot more than party in their spare time. Jennings, at 6’8”, is a dominant basketball player who also shares ownership in a racecar. Team pilot Michael King is a part-time actor who recently starred in a TV pilot. Teammates Brad Massey and John Lusk have both played semi-pro soccer, though Massey fills the off-season with triathlons, while Lusk penned the book The MouseDriver Chronicles. And Brendan King is a trained Irish dancer who can cut a mean jig.

But enough about them. What about their entry? The lads will be constructing a 30-foot dragon. Dressed as knights, they’ll chivalrously lead the beast right off Pier 30/32 to cool its fiery breath in the soothing waters of the Bay.

Why a dragon? Jennings has the answer: “We figured a dragon would be much easier to conquer than the wily female creatures of The Marina District. You’d be amazed at the peril a man can encounter post 2:00 a.m.!”

(The Drunk Knights in The Marina team consists of Ben Jennings [captain], Michael King [pilot], Brendan King, John Lusk, and Brad Massey. They live in San Francisco and the south suburbs.)


Team Name:   Around the World

Pilot:   Holly Albert

Hometown:   San Jose, CA

Around the World Team Captain Adam Albert has a three-year history with Red Bull Flugtag San Francisco. “The first year, our team was Bull Rings and we won. Last year, we didn’t even place. But this year, we’re going to go very, very far,” he says confidently. “We understand that the current Flugtag distance record is 195 feet. We will shatter this record.”

How can he be so sure? Well, Team Around the World has more minds at work than most Red Bull Flugtag teams—twelve so far, three of whom are engineers. Another great resource is eighty-year-old Roy Clough, a writer who brings over fifty years of airplane experience to the table. “His magazine articles have appeared in everything from Air Trails in 1951, to Model Airplane News in 2003,” says Albert. “He sent us the model for the propulsion system we’ll be using this year. It’s a pedal powered propeller. Try saying that three times fast!”

Around the World was originally a helium-filled sphere, but helium goes against the rules, so now the World is flat, “a large 18 foot diameter dinner plate,” as Albert describes it, with a bicycle underneath it. And who will power the pedal that makes this world go around? Albert’s petite wife Holly has volunteered her services. Albert himself is too large for the job. “I’m 6’4” and 220 lbs.,” confides Albert. “She’s 5’1” and weighs… wait, am I going to get in trouble here?” Okay, let’s just say she’s a lot lighter than 220.

Preflight antics have yet to be determined, but Albert states, “I have already vetoed the idea of all of us singing ‘It’s A Small World After All.’” If, in addition to keeping the world safe from that kind of thing, Around the World manages to do what Albert says and fly two hundred feet, you’ll be glad you were there.

(Team Around the World consists of Holly Abert, Adam Albert, Maureen Lovan, Wendell Lovan, Bill McBride, Felita Fox, Brian Fox, Roy Clough, John Kanalakis, Lourdes Adrondo, Arlene Shimabukuro, and Jeff Chamberlain.



Team Name:   American Flyer

Pilot:   Charles Carter

Hometown:   San Jose, CA

Spectators catching a glimpse of the American Flier team at Red Bull Flugtag San Francisco will likely think that the entry’s name is a typo. With an aircraft in the shape of an old-time fire engine, and a crew composed entirely of bona fide firemen, shouldn’t the moniker be American Fire?

“Well, sure,” answers team pilot Charlie Carter good-naturedly. “But isn’t the point of this whole thing to fly?”

As a firefighting professional of 35 years, Carter is a natural at organizing his brothers from the San Jose Fire Department into a fearsome Flugtag contender. John Diquisto, Gill Moralas, Mike Tapia, and Rich Toledo will be helping Carter launch a replica of a Victorian-era, steam-pumper fire engine, pulled by a highly untraditional team of horses: sea horses. Because the underwater creatures are notoriously unreliable on land, Carter will speed them along by pedaling a concealed bicycle.

The 62-year-old pilot should be plenty fit for pedaling – he recently returned from the World Police and Fire Games in Barcelona, Spain, where he competed in four cycling events and came away with silver and bronze medals. He also took fifth place in the 40-story stairclimb. But as proud as he is of these achievements, he explains that this Flugtag entry isn’t all about him, or even all about firefighters. “We’ve agreed that if we win any prize money, we’re going to donate a substantial portion of it to send kids to Burn Camp,” Carter relates, noting that the camp offers programs where young burn survivors can get together and enjoy fun summer activities in a supportive environment.

To seal the deal, Carter promises plenty of exciting surprises for spectators on Flying Day, and though he doesn’t want to give too much away to his competition, he offers one small hint. “The San Francisco fire boat is stationed only a few blocks from Pier 30/32, and I’ve got a call in to see if it’s available on October 25.”

(The American Flier team consists of Charlie Carter [captain and pilot], John Diquisto, Gill Moralas, Mike Tapia, and Rich Toledo. All are San Jose, California, firefighters.)




Team Name:   Snoop’s Dogg House

Pilot:   Cu Mai

Hometown:   San Francisco, CA

“We wanted something big, original, and cool,” explains Cu Mai, team captain of Snoop’s Dogg house. “So we brainstormed a bunch and came up with Snoopy – we’re going to have a big dog house, you know, using the Red Baron theme.” All right, sounds great. But what we want to know is where does Snoop Dogg come into all of this? Can we expect a little 187in’ on undercover cops? any gin and juice? any Dogg Pound thuggin’? Cu Mai sounds perplexed. “Well, we’re using Snoop Dogg in the team name, isn’t that enough?” Perhaps it is, Cu, perhaps it is.

Though he is sketchy on the details, Mai insists his plan is grade A. “We’re first going to dance around, you know. Then we’re going to get the dog house, which will have wings sprouting from its roof, on this ramp. From there our strategy is to get the dog house in the air, you know, so that it can fly.” Yes indeed, getting the craft in the air is a noble strategy, especially for a flying contest.

But Flugtag ain’t just judged on flying – it’s judged on creativity too. And in this category, we wonder why Snoop’s Dogg House is tied so tightly to the Snoopy thing, seems like the crowd would really dig some old school Snoop Dogg stylings, yes? Mai claims he’s way ahead of us: “By using Snoop Dogg in our name, we’re putting a twist on our design.” Great, but, we hesitate to ask (again!) why just use the name when you could incorporate Snoop Dogg himself? “No way, we haven’t really thought of that…that’s might be a good idea!”

Claiming they will go “50, or over 60 feet” in their Snoopy Dogg House, the team -- who all met a few years ago at San Jose State University – sees in their plans imminent victory. “Yeah, and when we win, we’re gunna have a fat ass party.” Perhaps they’ll make Snoop Dogg proud after all.

(T.J. Chen, Jimmy Cheung, Pamela Santos and Darin Woon live in San Francisco.)




Team Name:   Soaring Saguaros

Pilot:   Samual Maples

Hometown:   Glendale, AZ

When you think of a cactus (c’mon, don’t tell us you never daydream about cacti), the variety that probably comes to mind is the Saguaro. It’s the classic, tall, spiny desert cactus, with arms that reach for the sky like a horse rustler caught by the sheriff. It’s also incredibly valuable to desert inhabitants. With a lifespan approaching 150 years, this giant can reach 50 feet in height and weigh over 10 tons, offering both fruit and a home to animals.

The Soaring Saguaro team from Glendale, Arizona, has found an entirely new use for the sizable succulent, however: they’re turning it into an airplane.

“We’re going for a Western theme,” says 16-year-old team pilot Sam Maples, explaining that their 20-foot cactus replica will be the centerpiece of a skit involving a multi-generational team. Sam will be joined on the Red Bull Flugtag San Francisco flight deck by friends Jose Cano and Thomas Wyatt, as well as his uncles Scot Cummins and Willy Barish – all clad in old-fashioned, flap-bottomed long johns.

The entry was Sam’s idea, but friends and relatives were quick to jump on the bandwagon. Those that don’t appear in the skit will be cheering on the sidelines; even Sam’s grandmother is making the trip.

In fact, Sam’s family members seem to have a great deal of confidence in the aerodynamics of the cactus craft, but its pilot is more circumspect. “My mom thinks we have a good chance,” Sam says sheepishly, “But I have no idea. I never planned on winning – I just thought it would be fun.” Given that the Ironwood High School student has already exhausted such local entertainments as jumping off rooftops, firing off “an unthinkable amount of combustibles,” and riding off on everything from office chairs to motorcycles, he’s probably right.

If the team does take home a prize, Uncle Scot has a plan for the cash: a scholarship fund. Sam adds quickly, “And definitely a party, too!”

(The Soaring Saguaro team consists of Sam Maples [pilot]; Willy Barish; Jose Cano, Scot Cummins, and Thomas Wyatt. Barish resides in New Jersey. The rest of the team live in Arizona [Glendale and Phoenix].)