Red Bull Flugtag is back later this month, and this time the amateur aircraft builders and pilots will be hurling themselves across the Danube River in Vienna, Austria.
From its inception in the same city back in 1992, Red Bull Flugtag has brought out the good, bad and ugly of wannabe engineers with wings. From the sublime to the ridiculous, flying loo rolls to record-breaking chickens, there has been a myriad of memorable moments. Here are some of the many highlights from around the globe.
1. The glider that never took off
Being favourites isn't always a wanted tag, and so it proved for the Ultra-gliders. Such was the confidence in a sustained flight that each member of the team was dressed as Superman. Three of them ran at pace off the platform, pulling the glider for what they'd hoped was the world record back in 2016 in Zürich, Switzerland. The only problem was a wheel of the aircraft appeared to get wedged on the platform, and the pilot went flying while the plane stood still.
2. The chickens who hatched the perfect flight plan
Proving that chickens can't just fly but actually soar, the Chicken Whisperers smashed the world record held at a US event in Long Beach, California, in 2013, setting a mark of 78.64m, which still stands today. The masterminds behind it were five aerospace and mechanical engineers from Palo Alto, who performed an eye-catching chicken dance routine before taking to the skies, with pilot Laura Shane crediting a timely gust of wind for the length of her flight.
It's a Red Bull Flugtag World Record!
3. The Mainz attraction
A year before that record, the team known as Die Rückkehr der Teichfighters (or Return of the Pond Fighters) fell just shy of the 70m mark to take the world record by a whopping seven metres. With it, they won an even more eye-catching flight with Red Bull Skydive Team as a prize.
Despite their record-breaking antics, it wasn't enough for the win in front of a 150,000-strong crowd in Mainz, Germany, that particular accolade going to Don Canallie und seine tollkühnen Schurken (Don Canallie and his daring villains).
4. The numbers add up
Red Bull Flugtag may be back to its original home of Vienna in September, but it's been a truly global affair. In all, it's taken in 93 cities around the world, while eight million spectators have lined the various waterfronts of flight. There have been 1,187 applications and a total of 1,635 participants. A record crowd of 350,000 were in attendance in London, UK, while the 250,000 mark has been hit in Poznan, Poland, and the German city of Hamburg.
5. Toilet-themed aircraft take to the skies
When the Wright Brothers made the first controlled, sustained flight back in 1903, it's unlikely that they could have foreseen the aircraft they'd spawn at Red Bull Flugtag. Over the years, there's been a surprisingly scatological theme to many of the entries, from the Milanese team Mammacacca, a bunch of Italian nappy-clad friends who jumped off the platform to propel their friend – dressed as a poo – into the water, to Nooper, a plane based on a toilet roll. It was, unsurprisingly, flushed out by other competitors.
6. Is it a bird, is it a plane, no it's a sausage waffle
One wonders quite how the meeting of minds goes judging by some of the creations on the flying platforms around the planet. Many have caught the eye, with one such being the Norwegian team Polse I Vaffel, which is literally a national delicacy of a sausage in a waffle. And that's exactly what the aircraft was, the pilot covered before the flight in ketchup and mustard by team-mates dressed as bottles of the stuff. That they actually got off the ground in Olso is no small wonder for what proved an eye-catching, but unsurprisingly brief, flight.
7. The take-off, sorry, steak-off that went wrong
On paper, the group of students from the Swiss Institute of Technology known as Ready for Steak-off had every reason to feel confident of a lengthy flight with their collective brainpower. Their goal was the world record, and they even had an eye-catching build-up to boot, as a chef in an inflatable costume waved around cooking implements beforehand. The only problem was that for all their forward planning, they didn't quite take into account the width of their aircraft, so it clipped the neighbouring tree to the runway, the wing snapped off, and it nosedived with its ketchup-dressed pilot at the controls.