With the deadline fast approaching for applications to Boston’s first-ever Red Bull Flugtag competition, teams around the city are fine-tuning their bids for the kooky celebration of flight.
The contest invites groups of five to design a craft, then push that craft off a 38-foot-high platform over a body of water. In Boston’s case, that’s the Charles River. The cut-off for applicants is May 13.
The teams dress up in costumes, perform a choreographed dance number, then shove off. Points are awarded for creativity, quality of the dance, and distance the mini-airplanes fly before crashing.
Some aim for engineering precision, others for sheer laughs. YouTube videos of planes shaped like giant cakes, sharks, soccer balls and human heads speak to the variety of ways creative tinkerers have traveled from liftoff to splashdown.
Last Thursday, Secret Boston invited a handful of Flugtag teams to meet with Metro in SB’s headquarters in Jamaica Plain.
Here’s what they told us about their plans:
Team 90s Nostalgia
For this group of engineers with degrees from Northeastern, inspiration came from the cartoon “Ed, Edd ‘n’ Eddy.”
“We remembered in an episode they build a plane from all the stuff in the schoolyard and launch off the roof, so it’s thrown together,” said Mike Caulley, 26, of Jamaica Plain. “It’s a clunker, essentially, that works.”
They plan to recreate the junky airplane and dress up like characters from the show, he said. Teammate Eugene Zeleny, 26, of Arlington, will build the thing in his basement woodworking shop.
Style will be key, they said, but at the same time the team will have their eyes on the distance prize. They’ve been doing their homework to learn from the many, many, many past failures documented in videos online, they said.
“We did hours and hours of like YouTubing all of Flugtag and drinking beer,” said teammate Eugene Zeleny, 26, of Arlington. “It was fun research.”
“We’re building a large donkey made out of papier-mâché as big as we can possibly make it, with a big goofy head on it,” said Jared Daley, the 30-year-old self-described ‘mayor’ of Secret Boston. “And it probably is not going to fly.”
That’s Daley’ vision for the official SB craft.
“It’s gonna make the party happen,” he said.
Because why not, the piñata will be piloted by a real pilot: Bose Roy, 33, who flies for a commercial charter jet company. But, she admits, even she can’t make a giant party favor take flight.
“This is going to be hilarious,” she said.
Matt DiStefano, 26, of Brookline, and four of his friends are planning on recreating the Boston Tea Party, with a twist.
Alex Ezorsky, a 29-year-old professional animator and animation teacher from Somerville, said his entry already has a logo and an animated promotional video.
His brand: “Sphinxtor.” It’s a blend of “sphinx,” the Egyptian mythical creature, and “sphincter,” the body part.
If he makes the cut for he competition, he said, expect Team Sphinxtor’s performance to feature lots of anatomical “innuendos.”
Team Pizza Rat
“You might be familiar with the Pizza Rat,” said Andrew Haycox, 31, of the South End, “who was famous for taking the pizza.”
Haycox said he plans to dress up in a rat costume, stand on a rolling cart made to look like stairs, then dangle in the air from a pizza slice-shaped hang glider.
It’s an ode tothe viral video sensation from last year, in which a rodent drags a slice of cheese pizza down the stairs to a New York City subway station.
His goal, Haycox said — and that of his team of “barely educated” friends — is to build the cheapest plane of the bunch, and to beat the meticulous engineers from top colleges at their own game.
“Pizza Rat is flying in the face of all the fancy show-boaters,” he said. “We’re simultaneously low-balling and trying seriously to win. Hopefully when the MIT kids are up they have, like, some really bad wind and flop or something.”