Prepare to be Fluged.Imagine careening off a 30-foot deck into the Willamette River wearing nothing but a Speedo, life jacket and helmet in a covered wagon made out of aluminum, two-by-fours and children's bicycle tires while hopped-up on Red Bull (and probably trace quantities of alcohol). If you're Christopher Rosch, Kyle Dover, Robby Marshall, Kevin Mozingo or Pat Tyvand of Team Oregon Or Bust, this is exactly how you will be spending the first Saturday in August.
This group of five friends, all of whom grew up on the Eastside of Bend and attended Mt. View High School, decided that spending their summer floating the river with friends wouldn't be enough excitement this year.
"We saw the commercials [on TV] and every time we heard the music we would just get stoked," says Tyvand, who is currently housing the work-in-progress in his garage, "We just decided 'we have to do this.'"
When they're not hatching plans to throw themselves off decks, Dover works as an accountant and Patrick Casey & Co., Tyvand is a manager-in-training at Enterprise Car Rental, Mozingo works building homes, Marshall is a sports writer for The Bulletin and Rosch is an insurance agent. The team only has time to work on the float after work and on weekends, which explains why progress has been slow, but the team has managed a sponsorship from Miller Lumber. The plan, according to the group and their miniature model constructed out of plastic action figures and popsicle sticks (check it out on YouTube by searching "Oregon or bust") is for Tyvand, Mozingo, Marshall and Dover to propel a covered wagon-shaped flyer over the edge of the 30-foot deck while pilot Rosch remains inside the wagon. Once airborne, the wagon's lightweight aluminum top will disconnect from the chassis (if covered wagons had chassis) and float out gracefully over the river with Rosch attached to it. Well, that's the plan anyhow. Apart from the fact that none of the team has ever done this before, have no real way of testing their design and still have to actually construct their flyer, it all sounds pretty good, right?
"I didn't want to be the pilot," says Dover, "that guy's going down - hard."
"I'm kind of afraid I'm going to land on [the flyer]," admits Rosch, who was chosen as the pilot because he weighs the least.
Flugtag, which is German for "flying day," is Red Bull's cracked-out version of a soapbox derby meets the Wright Brothers, with a 30-foot plunge into water. The rules seem pretty simple: Your flyer must be completely human-powered (no external or stored energy sources allowed), must not exceed 30 feet in width and can only weigh 450 pounds, including the pilot. The first Flugtag was held in Austria in 1991 and since then there have been more than 35 Flugtags throughout the world. The current flight record is 195 feet and was set in Austria. This year, Flugtags are being held in Portland, Chicago and Tampa Bay. Aviators-in-training are judged on flight distance, creativity and showmanship. On August 2 in Portland, 31 teams will compete with team names ranging from Team Weener to Chinese Take-out to The Flugging Apollos.
The teams must also put on a one-minute skit with music before launch. Current plans for Team Oregon or Bust include an enormous cardboard oxen head and brown tarp with the pulling members of the team acting as the legs of the giant make-shift oxen. Rosch is expected to emerge from the wagon and "shoot" the oxen.
"Then we'll arise from the ashes like some sort of oxen phoenix," schemes Marshall during the team's four-hour long shopping bonanza last week, "And then we will strip down into Speedos and perform some sort of drunken dance [before going off the deck]."
"No way man," says Mozingo, "I'm wearing a full sweat suit - the Willamette is nasty! I'll probably come out with a syringe sticking out of my neck or something!"
The team has high hopes for the performance/crowd-pleasing aspect of their Flugtag debut. Whether or not Speedos actually happen, there will be plenty of laughs accompanying the performance.
"Portland doesn't know what it's getting itself into," says Dover.
We're pretty sure he's right, and this is definitely a better reason to hoof it to Portland than a trip to Ikea, right?
Red Bull Flugtag
August 2, Tom McCall Waterfront Park, 1020 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland. Free to the public. Gates open at 11am, the first flight launches at 1 pm. Go to www.redbullflugtagusa.com for more info.