Friday, February 12, 2010

International Birdman Competition

Ever since man first gazed at the sky, it has dreamed of flying. Not until a little over a hundred years ago did that realization come to pass. Society has the Wright brothers to thank for the conveniences of modern flight, but if it wasn’t for the groundwork completed by previous visionaries, we might still be grounded today. Yet, if you watch the old black and white reels of inventors testing their weird flying machines, it looks like the Wright brothers made huge bounds with their research. And even though we’ve progressed far in avionics this past century, the desire to realize flight is still present in the hearts of average Joes all across the world. So sometimes you just have to go against all logic, build a giant paper-Mache chicken, run off the end of a pier, and hope for the best. What?!

The International Birdman Competition is held annually in Worthing, England. The event has always been held on piers in West Sussex, on the island’s southern coast, originally beginning in Selsey, then moved to Bognor Regis, and finally to Worthing in 2008. Although similar events have manifested, this competition is the oldest Birdman Rally in the world.

The rules are simple, contestants take off running down a 30 foot high pier attempting to fly the furthest distance until striking the water surface. As of 2009, a reward stood at £30,000 ($46,900) for anyone who could reach 100 meters (330 feet) past the pier’s end.

While there is always a share of serious individuals competing each year, most participants enter to just have fun. In the rally’s long history, contest organizers have seen too many preposterous-looking contraptions to name. In order to keep festivities moving the event has been divided between advanced aviators looking to win and those who just want to make a big splash.

Did you know?- Steve Elkins set the record for longest flight in 2009 at 99.8 meters (327 feet)! He didn’t win the prize money.

I want to know…If you entered this contest, what would your aircraft be modeled after? Maybe a prehistoric pterodactyl or a refrigerator with wings? Leave a comment below.

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