Written by Phil Cerroni
Anyone who claims atavism and blood lust disappeared from modern America, needs look no further than Red Bull Flugtag (Flight Day) to be proved wrong.
“I’m here for the crashes - the same reason you’d go to a race - you want to see some crashes. People are afraid to say it, but that’s what we’re here for,” said spectator James Freese as he sipped a beer in the VIP Dallas Observer beach just yards from the waterfront.
Red Bull called it aviation history - the first national Red Bull Flugtag Day - 5 U.S. cities, roughly 150 flying machines and over 700 foolhardy heroes who followed their contraptions into the water across the United States. The grand spectacle drew crowds greater than 92,000 to the crowded banks of Lake Carolyn in Irving on Sep. 21. People filled the space between the water and the office buildings on the other side of Las Colinas Blvd., spilling around the edge of the lake and onto the roofs of parking garages and apartment homes to get an unobstructed view of the ‘flights.’
Failure to fly was the expectation, and the crowd was not disappointed. Although some of the machines flew quite gracefully, the vast majority plummeted, and sank to the bottom of Lake Carolyn within a few yards of the 23-foot flight deck. Some even spilled their pilots before take-off. The audience grinned and gasped as the inert flying machines followed the hapless daredevils into the water.
Andy Duncan, who brought three generations of his family to the event, admitted that in his opinion the worse the crash, the more successful the flight.
“I’d rather them – the smaller guys, like the F-16 – jump off and go straight down. Those are going to be the funny ones,” Duncan said.
In a twist of fate, the F-16 (actually an F-14) won first place.