A crew from City Sports hopes to fly a homemade aircraft made out of a treadmill replica and an oversized T-shirt to represent Boston in Red Bull's annual Flugtag competition.
Teams from around the nation compete each year by creating makeshift “flying” machines out of various odds and ends. Celebrity judges rate flights based on distance, creativity of craft and showmanship. The winning team will receive a skydive outing.
Newton Corner resident Greg Zuckerman, 27, will pilot the treadmill, which is supported by a giant City Sports T-shirt, over water as it is launched from a 30-foot ramp.
"It's always been one of my childhood dreams to participate in Flugtag," said Zuckerman, who got the project off the ground back in May. "I grew up in the age of Red Bull. I remember watching all of the commercials. It's just one of those things I always thought I’d love to participate in but, never thought I’d have the opportunity."
Red Bull Flugtag began in 1992 in Vienna, Austria. A decade later, it landed in San Francisco, attracting 25,000 spectators. On Saturday, for the first time ever, competitions will be held simultaneously in five U.S. locations: D.C., Miami, Dallas/Fort Worth, Long Beach and Chicago.
Zuckerman and his teammates have been working on the vessel in lead designer Greg McEachern's Watertown garage since July. The concept for the contraption was inspired by a favorite City Sport pastime: running.
"Initially we thought of a giant shoe with wings, but as we continued to talk, we asked ourselves, what is City Sports' most iconic item? It's probably the T-shirt. It's pretty recognizable," said Zuckerman.
"We're moving through a few fine tuned details, focusing on the actual hang glider part. Now it’s more cosmetic," McEachern said Monday. "But it's crunch time now."
The team was scheduled to hit the road Thursday.
Even if the contraption manages to stay airborne, does it have a chance of winning?
"I don't know," said Zuckerman, who denies having any fear of taking flight. "There is definitely some stiff competition, but we are hoping we can win. I trust (McEachern's) design, and I think the giant T-shirt hang glider will work."
Let's hope Red Bull gives them wings.