Red Bull Flugtag Gives People Wings at McCovey Cove

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“Black & White Take Flight” goes to show that penguins can’t fly, but can fall in style with flippers out. Photos by Michael Jeong.

Ever since the dawn of mankind, man has always had the dream and vision of taking flight. This past Saturday, over 30 teams did just that as they competed against each other to see how far they can fly at the Red Bull Flugtag San Francisco competition.

Flugtag, pronounced Floog-tog, in German means “flying day”. Red Bull’s first flugtag event took place in Vienna, Austria in 1991. The first flugtag event to come to the U.S. was held in 2002 in San Francisco. Before returning to San Francisco for its 10th anniversary, the event was held in 14 other U.S. cities. Since 1991, there has been over 100 Red Bull Flugtag events all over the world.

An estimated 116,000 fans of flight swarmed McCovey Cove to capture this hilarious, yet amusing competition. Spectators packed to watch the show from the shore and in the waters of the cove, on the Third Street Bridge, in the Red Bull entertainment zone, and inside AT&T Park.

Thousands of flugtag fans viewed the flying machines before the competition.

Teams of up to five people worked on building flying machines that were propelled off a 30-foot high flight deck through the air and into the water. Flying machines must entirely be human-powered, less than 30 feet wide, and weighing no more than 450lbs (pilot included).

Judging was based on flight distance of the pilot, creativity, and showmanship. Judges for the competition included Jimmy Spithill (America’s Cup skipper), Menace (Live 105), Sheila E. (Local legend musician), Ben Flajnik (“The Bachelor”), and Alysia Montano (Olympic Athlete).

The first and final flights (Team Chevron and Oracle Team USA) of the day did not compete, but did participate in event. Team Chevron built a pizza duck, but this duck sure didn’t fly far as it took a nose dive right into the water. Oracle Team USA’s craft was built using pieces from the wing sail of the AC72 catamaran that capsized just outside of the Golden Gate Bridge on October 16th.

Slammin’ Tri-Lambs rock out with their flying double guitar machine.

Almost entertaining than the flights themselves, teams performed skits on the flight deck to their own team theme music prior to launching their vehicles. Many of the teams competing built their flying machines and created routines around the SF Giants and American pride. This comes after the MLB team won its second World Series title within 3 years and as the event took place over Veterans Day Weekend.

After many laughs and scary moments, soaring in first place was Team Movember with a flight distance of 54 feet. Sugar Skull 138 came in second and Team Skyjackers in third. People’s Choice was awarded to The Californauts with over 10,000 votes.

Chacho’s Libre begins to take flight off of the flight deck over McCovey Cove.

More updated images can be found here at

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