You might have heard of Red Bull’s Flugtag, an event that the energy drink company throws once a year. It invites contestants from all over the world to build their own, human-powered flying machines and launch them into the air.
In practice though, Flugtag is usually an excuse to build wacky flying machines with little aerodynamics and hope of flying, and launching them off into their doom.
They’re cool at first, but after a while, the novelty wears out. Flugtag’s been running for over 20 years, and you can only watch so many goofy-looking contraptions plummet off of a cliff before it gets old.
But if Flugtag doesn’t cut it for you, then Japan’s got you covered. There’s a Japanese human-powered flight competition every makes Flugtag look like child’s play.
Unlike Flugtag, teams for the Birdman Rally usually come from universities and they push the limits of human-powered flight. The current Birdman Rally record is 23 km, or about 14 miles. Impressive!
Probably the most dramatic moment in Birdman Rally history was just last year. The Wingnauts team, from the devastated Tohoku region, decided to really go for broke to show that while the earthquake and tsunami had destroyed much of their region, it hadn’t broken their spirit.
Even though the team didn’t set any records, their run was incredibly inspirational. You can see the pilot pushing himself to the limit with his teammates cheering him from the sidelines. It’s an incredibly emotional and dramatic moment, and even the hosts tear up at the end of his run.
Check out the full, 13-minute long subtitled video of the Wingnauts’ 2011 run here:
For more info, check the Birdman Rally’s official site here.