Survivor Meets Flugtag
Flugtag Nashville 2017: We Plunged In Like A Wrecking Ball
We were one of 36 teams selected by Red Bull to design, build, and launch a human-powered aircraft off a runway 30-feet above our beloved Cumberland River. The winning craft would be the one that flew the farthest, delivering craft and pilot gently into a water landing.
Griffin’s team, “Miley & The Wrecking Balls,” promised an all-male interpretive dance to Miley Cyrus’s power ballad that would culminate with the Survivor Soar, our bi-winged glider, launching off the platform and gliding gracefully to the river below. We figured if we could build cases that protect your phone from extreme drops and impacts, that it should be easy enough to create an aircraft that would protect an extreme nutjob (our pilot) from damage as well.
Our craft, Survivor Soar, was beautiful. A Wright Flyer-inspired glider, Soar combined ultralight welded aluminum struts, water-jetted structural foam-and-plywood composite spars, and 300 square feet of kevlar-reinforced sailcloth in Griffin orange.
Flugtag (German for “Flight day”) dawned hot as 36 teams rolled their craft out to the launch deck. By the time the first craft launched, there were an estimated 80,000 – 90,000 people gathered in the 95-degree heat and humidity to watch the show. Celebrity judges had toured the hangar area, and confidence was high as we pushed our way out onto the deck.
The music started, and as Miley Cyrus’s voice blared through the speakers, our “Miley,” wearing a Survivor Extreme strapped to his waist, threw human “wrecking balls” at a giant Survivor case prop we’d made. Of course, it shrugged off the impact. Even a swing with (an admittedly foam-rubber) sledgehammer wasn’t enough to break through Survivor’s Ready for Anything protection. Despondent, “Miley” was carried to the Survivor Soar, where she climbed aboard to escape the pain and heartache.
As the final chorus swelled, (“I came in like a…”) we pushed the Survivor Soar down the deck into the gentle headwind, our hearts pounding as we watched her wings fill and her nose began to edge upward.
A final shove (“…wreeeecking baaalll…”) sent Soar off the edge and … let’s go to the video.
We didn’t get far. And really, none of our competitors went very far either. But the point was to have fun. Which we did. AND the Survivor Extreme case our pilot wore survived the 30-foot drop intact.
Survivor Soar involved us all and became a part of us all. From the engineers and guys in the shop to marketing and HR working our street teams, we made something special.
If you ever get a chance to enter, or watch, Flugtag, don’t miss it. And keep your eyes peeled, because you just might see Survivor again, taking to the sky.
“We clawed, we chained, our hearts in vain
We jumped, never asking why…”