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Beyond 'Stratos': Red Bull's Other Big Aviation Events

October 15, 2012 at 3:04 PM | by | ()

It's now being joked that Red Bull has a better space program than most countries, after Felix Baumgartner's successful "Red Bull Stratos" sky dive from 128,000 feet yesterday. It's also being said that all the media and social media attention directed at the event, which drew some 5 million live viewers on YouTube, is worth $5 billion. That's a huge profit on the $25 million and 5 years they put into making the mission a reality.

Alas, it's not just space jumps the energy drink has a hand in; Red Bull slaps their logo on everything from soapbox derbies to jumprope competitions, but since Red Bull "gives you wings," they do sponsor their fair share of aviation events. Let's look at the big three:

Red Bull Flugtag

Here's what happens. You get some friends or coworkers together and register as a team. Your team builds some sort of flying contraption. It gets launched off a ramp above water. It crashes into said water, but hopefully scores a few feet of precious flight first. Thousands cheer from the riverside/lakeside/seaside for you to keep on flying (but also anticipating an awesome crash). The currect flight record is 229 feet and was set in Mainz, Germany.

Think you can beat the Germans? Miami & San Francisco Flugtags have yet to happen this year, and will take place November 3 & 10th, respectively. Registration is already closed, but keep your ear to the ground (or skies, really) for the start of the Flugtag season in 2013. It's also worth Googling "Schlittentag" to see what the snow-based version of Flugtag is all about.

Flugtags have been happening for twenty years overseas (starting in Vienna), but only 10 here in the US, hitting Philly, Chicago, Long Beach, the Twin Cities, Miami, Portland, Tampa and even more. San Francisco is the US original, so it'll be the one to get the actual anniversary celebration on November 10. Check out the full event details (and all the funky team names) on the official site.

Chicago Air & Water Show presented by Red Bull

If it's up to us, we'd name Chicago's Air Show the best air show in the country. There's that benefit of the lake, watching from high-rise buildings or a beach, and it's free! Also, it's pure magic. It's kinda no wonder too, since Red Bull has a heavy hand in the event.

2013 will the 55th Anniversary of the Air & Water Show, so expect even more "oohs" and "aahs" as the "Red Bull Air Force" (yes, this is a real thing) and aerobatic champion airplane and helicopter pilots take the skies (and a few feet above the water) at North Avenue Beach next August.

Red Bull Air Race

Sad face. The last Red Bull Air Race happened in 2010 and we've not seen it since owing to the fact that it takes years to organize. It's a series of international events of "eye-level airplane racing action" where planes must navigate slalom-like "air gate" obstacles usually over water, aiming for the fastest finish time. The last one happened at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ, with the Statue of Liberty watching over the proceedings.

Alas, there is some good news. A fixed Air Race schedule should be out next year after Red Bull's people review the championship and add new safety measures.

Sidenote: Red Bull also sponsors individual athletes and counts daredevil pilots among their stars. The most famous would be pilot Kirby Chambliss and heli pilot Chuck Aaron. We dare you to YouTube search them and not be in awe.

Now, for some Flugtag flops:

[Photos & video: Red Bull]

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