Flugtag at National Harbor: If you build it, will it fly?

September 19, 2013

If you think it’s hard getting a balsa wood model airplane to fly, it’s probably smart that you didn’t enter the Red Bull Flugtag competition. ("Flug tag" means "flight day" in German.) Thirty teams from along the East Coast will bring their goofy homemade flying vehicles to National Harbor for the competition Saturday. The goal: Launch the "aircraft" from a 30-foot platform and see how long the pilot can keep it airborne before making a water landing.


A "Despicable Me" flying thing at the Moscow Flugtag event. (Daniel Kolodin/Red Bull Content Pool)

This is no easy feat. Many of the participants carry engineering backgrounds, and for good reason. Consider Connecticut's Channel 4 News Team: Not only are they "Anchorman" fans; they're jet engineers who have assembled a craft inspired by the Ron Burgundy station's news chopper. More than a third of the participating teams are local, including the No Kings Collective squad (founders of D.C.'s Submerge arts festival) and a team from National Geographic.

Tickets to the viewing area at National Harbor are sold out, so the next best place to watch is from the official viewing party at Smith Commons during the H Street Festival. Look for the skateboarding ramp that's being built for the occasion, which runs from noon to 7 p.m.

Alex Baldinger is editor of the Going Out Guide blog, which covers food, drink, arts, music, events and other curiosities in the D.C. area. He is forever in search of a great sandwich.
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