On Saturday Musty the Mustang will soar off a platform, plummet 30 feet into water and only to be decapitated in front of a crowd of thousands.
Red Bull Flugtag is the name of the game and five Cal Poly students will head to Tempe, Ariz. to compete against 30 other teams with contraptions that include a toilet, a trailer home, Pac Man, a taco, Elvis and the Shaggin’ Waggin’ from “Dumb and Dumber.”
“My roommate is a Red Bull rep for the campus and he kept encouraging us (to apply),” said Josh Crane, a Cal Poly team member and materials engineering senior. In addition to Crane, the team is comprised of mechanical engineering senior Blake West, mechanical engineering sophomore Ian Journey, crop science and agriculture business senior Anthony Jaques and recreation administration senior Lindsay Simpson.
The team sent in five applications, which included ideas for a giant Frisbee; a Mary Poppins theme, complete with a giant chimney and even the backside of a bull that a team member would ride a bike out of. But out of a total of 200 applications, only 31 were selected and the Musty design was one of them.
Perhaps it was the idea to convert Musty into a Trojan horse, but Crane believes that Red Bull Flugtag Arizona is going for a college theme this year. Cal Poly is one of many university teams competing, while others hail from Oregon, Texas, Washington and New Mexico.
Liz Ordenstein, a communications coordinator for Red Bull, said the competition is open to anyone and everyone but there generally are a lot of college entries.
“College students are great,” she said. “They’re creative, they have a sense of humor, they know how to amp up the crowd. – They (the Cal Poly team) were one of the teams that had the perfect mix.”
The main competition, however, will be between local universities such as the University of Arizona and Arizona State, which each have a couple of teams.
It is a rivalry that Crane’s team incorporated into their skit, which is mandatory for all teams to perform before launching their contraptions. Crane said two Cal Poly students will dress up as a wildcat and a sun devil (to mock the Arizona mascots) only to be lassoed and hogtied by two other team members dressed as a cowboy and a cowgirl. All the while, “Cotton Eyed Joe” will be playing and will change over to “California Love” at the end to show the team’s pride for their state.
The team will then roll Musty off the platform into Tempe Town Lake when the head will come off and split in half to make wings for Crane to sail down.
Though the teams have had about two months to put their device together, Crane said his team only started within the last two weeks.
“We’re college students you know, we procrastinated,” he said.
The team is making Musty out of 2-by-4s and wheelchair wheels. The body is covered in cardboard and then painted. But there is one minor problem.
“We can’t get it out of the backyard,” Crane said. The craft is too big to get around the house, so they will have to transport it over the roof.
“It’ll be an adventure to get it over,” Crane said, laughing.
The five students will then load Musty onto a trailer and make the trip to Tempe where their performance will be judged on three criteria: creativity, showmanship and distance.
The goal is to not only be funny, but to also make it out as far as possible into the water. The Flugtag record in the United States is 78 feet in the 2004 Cleveland competition, but was 195 feet in a European Flugtag.
The machines must all weigh less than 450 lbs, including the pilot, and span no more than 30 feet wide. Additionally, all devices must be human-powered and prefabricated machines are not allowed.
The Flugtag teams will compete for a variety of prizes: First place will receive a pilot’s training course at a cash value of $7,500, second-place winners will receive skydiving lessons at a cash value of $3,000 and the third-place team will win paragliding lessons valved $1,500 cash value. Other teams can also win awards for the “Most Creative” craft or the “People’s Choice” award.
“Flugtag” is a German word meaning “flying day” ” and that’s just what it is. It started in 1991 in Vienna, Austria as an idea by Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz and has grown in popularity with the more than 30 Flugtags that have taken place worldwide.
The first Flugtag in the U.S. took place in San Francisco in October 2002 and seven more U.S. locations followed. Later this year, Red Bull Flugtag will visit Baltimore, Md.
This will mark Ordenstein’s third Flugtag and it is an event she encourages everyone to go to.
“It is so much fun and so hilarious,” she said. “It’s a good time for everyone to share laughs.”
She said most U.S. crowds range from 35,000 to 70,000 people “we’re hoping in Arizona to have something like that.” The largest crowd to-date was in London in 2003 when over 300,000 people attended and Hyde Park had to be shut down – which had only happened once previously at a Rolling Stones concert.
Though Crane’s team hopes to walk away from the competition with a prize, he said the main reason to participate is to have fun.
“We have tons of midterms next week but it’s worth it,” Crane said. “I’ll probably never get the chance to do this again, so I might as well do it.”