1st Red Bull Flugtag flies high at Hyde Park
Monday, 11 August 2003
1st Red Bull Flugtag flies high at Hyde Park
UK - Red Bull UK staged their biggest ever event in Hyde Park, London, in early August. The event, hosted by Tess Daly and Brian Dowling, involved 40 teams launching their homemade flying machines off a 6m high runway into the Serpentine, cheered on by thousands of enthusiastic onlookers.

Attended by an estimated 150,000 people, who watched the 40 teams of mad participants launching themselves in home-built 'flying machines' from the huge floating runway, the event was the climax of 18 months of planning and development, which involved over 110 Red Bull staff.

At the centre of the serpentine was the main runway, built by Star Hire, an impressive 40m long by 10m wide, leaving the contestants and their flying machines a 6m drop into the water. To ensure all the crowds could see the action in the park, which is covered in trees, four big screens with relay sound systems were employed. The biggest of these was suspended on a 16.5m high 'truss bridge' above the runway.

Louise Taylor, Red Bull's event manager said: "This project has taken us 18 months to plan and was the core of our marketing campaign this year. It kicked off to the public back in April, with an announcement phase to would-be competitors, which attracted over 10,000 entries and was followed by a second wave campaign in July to promote the event. We have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the public and are extremely proud of the work of our core production team, which was led by Nick Fisher and Susan Marr. The key contractors which included Star Hire, Chrysalis Television, XL Video and SSE to name but a few, did an amazing job in turning the park into the dream setting for the Red Bull Flugtag."

The project raised several challenges for the Star Hire team, not least getting 15 articulated trucks of equipment into London's busiest park and constructing the structure amidst a heat wave! A team of 10 crew (including two female riggers) transformed five kilometres of scaffold tube into the frame of the runway in eight days. The framework was then covered in over 1,500sq.m of vinyl fabric. The access ramp and 'runway' structure weighed in at over 250 tonnes and Star Hire used 40 buoyancy tanks to float the structure; just 0.5m of it was under the water. There were eight concrete block anchors that could be raised and lowered from the runway, each weighing in at 1,600kg.

There were plenty of thrills, spills and hilarity as the 40 teams flew their dubiously aerodynamic machines, finishing with the 'Miss Piggy' team being declared overall winners, based on the style and length of their flight. All in all a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon in the sun that proved British eccentricity is alive and flying high. It was quite fitting for such an event to have one of the original Jackass members - Bam Margera - involved as one of the celebrity judges. Swarmed by fans as he left, Margera said: "It's great to see the Jackass legacy making its mark on London. Some of the guys today really went for it and it was pretty impressive, the Jackass crew would be really proud of all of them!"

(Lee Baldock)

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