Giant Flying Llamas win against the wind

With the help of costumes, teams and themes, the Red Bull Flugtag took flight.

With the help of costumes, teams and themes, the Red Bull Flugtag took flight.

It was a crowded scene of about 85,000 people, insane homemade flying machines and Red Bull everywhere during the Labor Day weekend in Camden, N.J.

Red Bull’s Philadelphia Flugtag, held Saturday, Sept. 4, set sail for the first time over the Delaware River. The event challenged teams to design and build their own aircrafts and fly them off a 30-foot dock.

Although the word flugtag is German for “flying day,” most of the impressive machines plummeted into the water below.

The windy skies over the river delayed the flying machines that all paid tribute to the city’s history, as well as the area’s culture, sports and rivalries.

Hoping to break the record in this worldly event, three Temple teams brought creativity and smart engineering to their aircrafts. Saturday’s event included grand prizewinner Giant Flying Llama, along with the Draught Horse Pub and Grease Lightning teams.

The five-member Grease Lightning team, which included recent Temple and University of the Arts alumni, dawned themselves as 1950s greasers, for the required skit which accompanied every aircraft. All teams had to present a brief skit showing off the theme of their projects, all while being judged on creativity, showmanship and how far their aircraft went.

The Grease Lightning team’s machine was built around the city’s beloved cheesesteak. Piloted by Josh Jenkowitz, the greasy cheesesteak did not bring any awards home, however it brought to life what Philly is known for.

The crewmembers said they hoped to make it all the way to the bridge, although like most teams, the jump appeared harder than it looked.

Second on the list of Temple alumni was the Draught Horse Pub; team members created a large horse to represent their workplace on campus. Captain Nathan Szwerdszarf, and the other team members carefully analyzed past Flugtags and put their engineering talents to work.

“The plan is to just get as far as we can. This thing is about 350 pounds,” Draught Horse employee and crewmember Ralph Pierre Louis said before the flight.

Taking home first prize, Philadelphia’s Giant Flying Llama team received a perfect score from the judges. Showing off a large baseball hat, they performed a skit of Phillies and Yankee players fighting over the championship trophy.

Using the structure of an old hang-glide, this hat took the best distance from all teams, measuring 36 feet.

“We found a common bond in building things and through that we just pulled together resources,” pilot and Temple alum Justyn Myer said.

Other imaginative teams showed up to represent themselves, such as the Founding Flyers, Crash Test Kids and the people’s choice award winner, 5 Guys, 1 Clock.

Visitors pushed past each other to get the closest spot to watch these fun teams run off the deck in hopes of catching the wind the right way.

“I’ve been here since 8:30 in the morning,” said Rebecca Newcomer, 21, a nearby biochemistry student. “I’m cheering for the Flugtag Fist Pumpers from my hometown, regardless of their Jersey Shore theme.”

Despite Hurricane Earl’s strongest efforts, this event was a clear success for the thousands who supported the brave and inventive teams. The weather couldn’t even stop visitors from lining the Ben Franklin Bridge to get the perfect view.

Kayla Young can be reached at

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