Rochelle team competes in Flugtag event - – Rockford’s News Leader

Rochelle team competes in Flugtag event


A Rochelle group hopes to make a splash at a world famous aviation competition. Team Bamzoniacs will compete in Chicago's Red Bull Flugtag. The team's goal: bring home the gold, or at least look good trying.

"Successful flight and a soft landing is really what we're after...obviously we want to win," said Shane Theiss.

You've heard the saying 'winning isn't everything'. But for Shane Theiss, after months of planning and 100 hours of building a manpowered aircraft, winning the 2013 Red Bull Flugtag is pretty darn important.

"I'm gonna try not to crash into the water," said Megan Bratko.

Bratko's main goal as the aircraft pilot is to glide the Bamzoniacs' Airstream Travel Trailer as far as she can from a 30 foot ramp.

"It's supposed to fly but it doesn't have a motor or anything, it's just like wood and fiber and tape and I just go off a dock and I glide across the water," she said.

At least that's the hope. For anyone who has ever seen the Flugtag event, there's often more crashing than gliding. And unfortunately, there's no way of telling how the team's creation will perform.

"It's too risky to make a test flight. We don't have the body of water to do it over, to build a 30 foot high structure to launch it off of, it's not feasible to do it," said Theiss.

But winning the aviation event isn't just about who stays above water the longest. Creativity is a major part in scoring. The Rochelle team has worked hard to have a creative edge in the competition, and hopes its past experience in other Flugtags give it an edge.

"We've always kinda gone with un-aerodynamic machines. We've done a zamboni, we've done a pontoon boat and now we've done an airstream travel trailer," he said.

Worst case scenario, if the Airstream Travel Trailer doesn't take flight and nose dives right into the water, Megan isn't too worried.

"Luckily I'm a good swimmer," she said.

About 30 other teams will compete this year. The Bamzoniacs take flight, hopefully, Saturday September 21 at Burnham Park in Chicago. The first launch is at 1 pm.


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