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North Hills Monthly

Another Champ Crowned in Steel City as Homemade Flying Competition Soars into Pittsburgh

Sep 01, 2017 08:34AM ● By North Hills Monthly magazine

On Saturday, Aug. 5, tens of thousands crowded the banks of the Allegheny River to witness 37 brave amateur aviators launch themselves off a 22-foot flight deck as part of Pittsburgh’s first ever Red Bull Flugtag, the world’s wildest human-powered flying craft competition.

As part of the annual EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta, the event is judged on creativity and showmanship as much as distance flown, and a gold-pant clad, head-bobbing Flight at the Roxbury team, whose performance paid homage to the cult comedy, took first place due to their crowd-pleasing routine. 

“We’ve created and designed for a while, so it’s nice to see what we can build and have it work in front of an appreciative crowd,” said Edwin Manson, crew member of winning team Flight at the Roxbury, a group of engineers who work together from McLean, VA.

In second spot was the impressive Survivor Tractor team, whose majestic purple craft soared 121 feet, and the Left Field Loonies rounded out the top three with a flying machine that honored Pittsburgh’s storied baseball history and highlighted the city’s devotion to sports, wrapping up the event with the largest, loudest fan base. 


  1. Flight at the Roxbury 
  2. Survivor Tractor 
  3. Left Field Loonies 

The coveted People’s Choice Award, a fan-favorite award voted on by spectators throughout the event via social media, went to The Flite Testers, who were victorious in last year’s Red Bull Flugtag Boston. 

Crafts were as creative and quirky as ever, with other homemade human-powered flying machines including chicken wings, bird nests, ketchup bottles and nods to local landmarks such as the inclines and a Pittsburgh parking chair. Pilots included terrifying zombies, prancing penguins and a team so inspired by their Red Bull Flugtag experience that they all got matching tattoos. 

Chosen from over 130 submissions, 37 teams from Pittsburgh and surrounding areas put months of design, labor, practice and love into their crafts, costumes and routines. In addition to distance, they were judged on creativity and showmanship, with each performing a skit to their favorite tune before taking the plunge and hoping to get some air. 

Red Bull Flugtag (meaning “Flying Day” in German) has been taking place in different cities all over the world for over 25 years. Celebrating the magic of teamwork, creativity of everyday people and the love of flight; the silly yet serious competition taking place in Pittsburgh could not have been possible without the partnership with the EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta.

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