Flugtag flying to Sydney
FROM the moment we are old enough to walk outside and see birds flitting through the trees, soaring into oblivion, gliding across the waves or hovering above prey, we begin our fascination with flying.
We want to be up there with our feathered friends, seeing what they see, going places at a whim, wickedly pooping on gravity-bound humans, feeling the wind beneath our wings (to borrow from a popular song).
My first flight was as a wide-eyed nine-year-old and I still cherish the photo taken with the TAA hostie on the tarmac on arrival in Melbourne on a cold April day.
Although we had been invited to fly down for my brother's wedding, my Dad, who had served in the RAAF in World War Two, waited until we could afford to fly first-class from Brisbane – a goal for a one-income family on a postal clerk wage that took nine years after the nuptials to afford.
Fancy walking up the stairs in one city, sitting in a lounge chair and being brought food and drink while relaxing and listening to music, with fascinating “moving pictures” out the window, then walking down the stairs a few hours later in another city.
I was hooked.
Since then, I've been lucky enough to fly in all manner of craft – from vintage and modern helicopters to a flimsy paragliding harness, long-haul jets to light aircraft as small as a two-seater.
And while I still don't consider myself “a good flyer”, I'll never refuse a window seat and opportunity to marvel at cloud formations, spot ramshackle farmhouses amid the patchwork of paddocks and pass kilometres above mountain ranges.
The approach to Queenstown Airport in New Zealand's South Island – through snow-capped mountain ranges like an eagle catching the updrafts through a gorge – still rates as my most exhilarating aerial experience.
I'm not alone in my love of flying, and no doubt many visitors will have plenty of memories to share and stories to tell at the Queensland Air Museum's Open Cockpit Weekend today and tomorrow at Caloundra Airport.
But the real reason for having my head in the clouds at the moment is the news that Red Bull Flugtag – the hilarious, world-renowned man-made flying competition – returns to Australia on Sunday, November 7.
Daring young men (and women) in their flying machines with silly names such as Larry the Lobster or Pregnant Cow launch themselves off a six-metre high platform into Sydney Harbour.
Registrations to participate are now open, and 40 teams will be hand-selected to take to the skies for the unbroken world record of the 60m flight set in 2000 at Red Bull Flugtag in Austria.
In 1991, Austria became the first country to host the Red Bull Flugtag. Since then, the event has been held more than 50 times around the world in locations including London and New York.
Australia was chosen for the Red Bull Flugtag in 2008 when more than 60,000 spectators turned up to cheer on 30 wannabe pilots attempting to fly their man-made aircrafts.
Last year, a giant flying flounder swooped to victory, ahead of a range of contraptions, including a Lego bi-plane and an ACME rocket. What will entrants come up with this year?
For more information, head to www.redbullflugtag.com.au and request an entry kit. Deadline for designs is July 28.
Redbull Flugtag will be a sight to see, but as far as flying experiences go, much safer from the ground looking up.