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Red Bull Flugtag soars into EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta lineup |

Red Bull Flugtag soars into EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta lineup

Bob Bauder
| Monday, February 13, 2017 1:18 p.m
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
A painting by Baron Batch and a model aircraft for Red Bull's Flugtag competition are on display at Rivers Casino on Monday, Feb. 13, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Allegheny Executive Rich Fitzgerald speaks during a press conference announcing Red Bull's Flugtag competition to Pittsburgh during the regatta at Rivers Casino, on Monday, Feb. 13, 2017.
Red Bull
Team Flyin' Ryan competes at Red Bull Flugtag in Boston on Aug. 20, 2016.

You’ve heard of an “anything that floats” competition?

The EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta this year also will feature an “anything that flies” event. Regatta officials on Monday announced they are bringing Red Bull Flugtag to the annual river event set for Aug. 4, 5 and 6.

Flugtag — German for flying day — is an annual promotion by the energy drink maker featuring homemade, self-propelled “aircraft” that five-member teams build and push off a 22-foot-high platform into water.

Most have little chance of actually flying and plunge directly into the drink.

“Frankly it looks a little scary,” said John R. Bonassi, who chairs the Regatta board of directors. “When we first saw it, we decided we had to take every safety precaution, and we did. We are so excited to have the world famous Red Bull Flugtag as part of this year’s lineup.”

Red Bull will take applications from prospective teams from now until May 1. Entry is free. A panel of judges made up of regatta and Red Bull officials and local celebrities will pick 40 of the best teams to participate.

Flugtag will debut Aug. 5 and teams have until then to build their aircraft.

Regatta Director Derek Weber said teams must show design originality and ability of their entry to fly. They also must devise a theme and skit to be performed on a flight deck set up aboard a barge in the Allegheny River near the Mr. Rogers statue outside Heinz Field.

“With this being the 40th anniversary of the regatta, we were looking for a marquee event, and this seemed to fit perfectly,” Weber said, adding that the regatta has been courting Flugtag for more than a year.

Austin Furey, 27, of Akron, Ohio, said it took his team 10 days and cost $500 to build a fixed-wing contraption that won the 2016 Boston Flugtag. He said it soared 70 feet. The record is 258 feet.

Furey said the team intends to try again this year in Pittsburgh.

“Some people embrace the silly side of Flugtag and they don’t fly. Other people try to break the distance record,” he said. “We wanted to win.”

Red Bull takes the winners to another company promotional event. Furey and his team are sky diving with the company in May.

Regatta officials promised a full lineup of water and entertainment events, including “anything that floats.” They will release details in coming weeks.

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff reporter. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, or via Twitter .

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