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Philly’s Red Bull Flugtag: Taking Flight with UpCycled Materials…Maybe
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Philly’s Red Bull Flugtag: Taking Flight with UpCycled Materials…Maybe

This September 15th the Camden waterfront is the site of the Philadelphia Red Bull Flugtag competition.

Red Bull Flugtag challenges teams of everyday people to build human-powered flying machines and pilot them off a 30-foot high deck in hopes of achieving flight! Flugtag means  “flying day” in German, but typically these crafts simply splash into the waters below.

But that doesn’t make the event any less fun. Teams are judged not only on their flight’s distance, but creativity and showmanship as well.

One of the team’s participating this year is a group of Rowan University students who are members of the university’s environmental club. They recognized the opportunity to create an “aircraft” using upcycled materials.

I spoke with team captain,  Brooke Davis, to get the scoop on the team’s Flugtag initiative and her team – The Filthy English Kuh-Knights.

GPB: What was the impetus behind your idea for the race?

Brooke: After learning the event was coming back to Philly, we knew we had to apply this time around. The group of us who formed the team all happened to be members of the club as well, so early on we decided it should be a sustainable project. After that we took a few weeks to develop our ideas and one night, while watching one of our favorite movies, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it came to us. Why not a swallow carrying a giant coconut?

GPB: How does the team plan to recycle the materials being used?

Brooke: Originally we came up with a list of ideal materials we would use if we built the craft, then began racking our brain for greener substitutes. For instance, we said we would use PVC for the skeleton of the craft ideally then brainstormed. We found a friend who’s home is covered in huge stalks of bamboo. It’s got all of the strength and length of PVC with the added benefit of some pliability. For all of our wood purposes we decided to use recycled shipping pallets, which we knew were easy to come by because we had used them two years ago to build our school’s community garden. As for bike wheels, there are some seriously neglected bikes which have been left to rot away around campus. We’ve reclaimed some of the pedal-less, seat-less, handlebar-less bikes and stripped them of their wheels.

 GPB: What are your team’s goals? Environmental, and otherwise?

Brooke: Mainly, get off the platform and into the Delaware. If any sort of flight occurs, it will be the (unexpected) icing on the cake. This event is all about having fun with good friends and cold energy drinks. We just want to show that you can still do that while trying to build a craft sustainably. I think that is a better message than simply casting a giant recycling symbol with wings into a river – and one people will be more likely to get behind.

Head out Saturday September 15th from 11am-4pm to support local folks attempting to take flight.

Good luck to the Filthy English Kuh-Knights and all participating!

Photo credit: RedBull.com

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Beth is a Health and Wellness expert who believes sustainability goes hand-in-hand with self care. She’s the girl whipping up kombucha cocktails at parties, and extolling the benefits of canning vegetables to anyone who will listen. View all posts by Beth Funari

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