The Red Bull Flugtag’s Flying Machines in San Francisco
October 2003

View story

01-2150-0093 San Francisco,CA: The Red Bull Flugtag is a fun and unique event in which participants launch a handmade, human-powered flying machine off a 25-foot ramp into the water. The flying machines can range from realistic plane replicas to anything imagination can create. A total of 35 crafts were selected and each team, consisting of one pilot and up to four teammates, launches their craft off the end of the ramp. They are judged on three criteria: distance, creativity and showmanship. Each team is asked to create a little two-minute show prior to the launch in order to amuse and excite the crowd.

The event is organized by the Red Bull® Energy Drink, which is exclusively produced in Austria and exported world-wide. The first Flugtag took place in Austria in 1991 and since then, Red Bull has produced more than 23 Flugtags around the world, from Poland to California. Flugtag, (to be pronounced “Flood-Tog”), means “flying day” in the German language and was created by Red Bull founder, Dietrich Mateschitz..

A total of 5 people can be on a team (4 pushers and 1 pilot). Only the pilot can be in the craft at time of launch. The flying machine must be powered entirely by human muscle power. No external energy sources including rubber bands, motors of any kind, springs, etc. can be used. Existing wings such as a hang glider or a parachute canopy are not allowed either. It must be less than 30’ (9 meters) wide and not more than 450 lbs (204 kgs), including the pilot. Participants usually spend about two months designing and building their machines

The launch pad is a flat and non-inclined smooth runway about 80' (24 meters) in length and 25 feet (8 meters) high. While distance is a factor to victory, creativity is considered more important. A dramatic stone-like path into the water can lead to victory if the craft is judged creative and outrageous enough. The show prior to the launch will also be taken in consideration by the judges.

The first prize is a pilot’s training course, or cash equivalent ($7,500).
2nd Prize: $3,000 towards Paragliding lessons (or cash equivalent)
3rd Prize: $1,500 towards Skydiving lessons (or cash equivalent)

This year’s winner at the Red Bull Flugtag San Francisco was the “El Toro Guapo” team with its medieval missile. The Red Bull Flugtag events usually attract large crowd. The 1999 event in Warsaw, Poland, had more than 250,000 people.

Full website is at

View story