It's been four years since Red Bull Flugtag
took over Portland's Waterfront Park, attracting more than 50,000 people to watch teams of everyday people "fly" their homemade flying machines off a platform and take a 30-foot plunge into the Willamette River (if you're unfamiliar with the concept, watch one of the videos below and see what I mean). This Saturday, the madness will start anew with Red Bull Flugtag Portland 2008.
To find out what it takes to be a Flugtag team (and get a sense of what these crazy hooligans are like), I visited the Tualatin home of "Team Trog
," who will be the first of 31 groups to launch Saturday afternoon. Team Trog will lift off at 1 pm. There will be another launch every four minutes thereafter.
Team Trog is a group of rampant University of Oregon
students/fanatics bloodthirsty for revenge. In 2004, a group of Oregon State Beaver-believers built a float they called "Lame Duck"
and happily took the destructive march off the plank. This year, the Duck fans on Team Trog, led by team pilot Ryan Lassi, have made a Beaver shaped machine to crash into the depths of the Willamette.
Here's the rundown on Team Trog:
- Ryan Lassi (above in yellow), team pilot, 19, University of Oregon sophomore, Student Brand Manager for Red Bull
- Emily Lorts (above in blue), 19, University of Oregon sophomore, waitress at Blue Sage Café
- Pierce Heska (above with the hair), 19, Lane Community College, employed at Kordells Nursery
- Nicole Potts, 19, University of Oregon sophomore
- Eric Swenson, 20, University of Oregon junior
- The team will be spray painting their bodies with green paint that is "like house paint, but it's environmentally friendly" said Lorts... and how "friendly" and removable is the paint when used on human flesh? I guess we'll find out on Saturday.
- "Well I'm gonna shit my pants when I'm on the flight deck, I know that" was Lossi's response to a question about superstitious pre-flight meals. Delicious.
- Their worst case scenario would be if "one of us gets hurt and can't go party afterwards," said Lossi.
- And have these youngsters had enough time to rile up Flugtag rivalries? You betcha. "I hate Grenade
(Grenade is a snowboarding glove company). They're really cocky; I'd like to bring them down," said Lorts.
- But they also have Flugtag idols, like an intricate fire breathing dragon, and the Giant Skateboard, in the video above, that won Flugtag Austin in 2007. The skateboard's pilot fractured four bones in his leg and ankle on impact. That's some hardcore Flugtagging.
- The "trog" took about one month to build.
- Lossi is the most intense team-mate, Swenson is the least into it.
- Lossi's step-dad, Doug Barrett came up with the idea of building a Beaver craft and built the base of the float for his son.
- Their craft is made of wood (mostly plywood), canvas, chicken wire, paint and lawn mower wheels. Total, the materials cost around $250.
Red Bull Flugtag Portland. Saturday, Aug. 2. Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Gates open at 11 am, first flight at 1 pm. Free. All Ages.
Event day information such as street closures and parking can be found in this PDF document.