“Day of Flight” Lifts Cincy Spirits and Ruffles Feathers

By Laney Konz, Staff Writer

Cincinnati hosted Red Bull’s Flugtag event on the Banks on Saturday, Aug. 12. 

German for “the day of flight,” Flugtag is an ode to the wings that the classic energy beverage gives to those who drink it. Over 40 teams assembled their own aircraft with the goal of flying the furthest before hitting the water after being launched from a pier.

Red Bull’s Flugtag event started in 1992 and has been held annually in the U.S. since 2002.

Red Bull’s stop in Cincinnati was the only stop in the U.S. this year, making it a special event for the Queen City. An estimated 30,000 people ventured to the Ohio River to watch the spectacle. 

Teams also performed skits and dressed up according to the theme of their creations to earn the crowd’s favor with the hope of earning them bonus points among the judges. The judging panel was made up of familiar Cincinnati faces such as Nick Goepper, Jessica Dimon, Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, Chloe Pavlech and Cale Saurage.

Each team had five members, one of whom was the pilot during the launch.

Grace Elam, a member of the United Dairy Farmers team, emphasized the difficulty of the flight. 

“The most challenging aspect of the event was running in a straight line,” Elam said.

Cincinnati saw no record-breaking launches, but attendees raved about the event nonetheless. 

After careful deliberation and consideration of the three categories (flight distance, craft creativity and showmanship), first place went to Flite Test from Minerva, Ohio. Second place went to Living Lost Land and Waters from East Moline, Ill. Third was awarded to The Neanderthals from Phoenix, Ariz. 

Thunderdome, a team comprised of Cincinnati natives, was awarded the People’s Choice Award.

Finishing at 54 feet, The Smoke Eaters from Ripon, Wis. completed the longest flight.

There were a plethora  of creative takes on a flying craft, including Team Top Gums from Middletown, Ohio, who created their entry as an homage to Betty White, the movie Top Gun and the show Golden Girls.

There was also controversy spurring surrounding the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) team after their disqualification on Saturday. 

Chris Seelbach, former president of Cincinnati City Council and member of the PFLAG team, hopped on X (formerly Twitter) to voice his disappointment: “Couldn’t be more proud of this PFLAG team and couldn’t be more disappointed with @redbull Flugtag Cincinnati. PFLAG local, led by Kat Steiner, worked for months getting designs approved. Over and over again. Red Bull approved our craft every single step of the way.”

“The Red Bull organizers told us they wouldn’t let our craft fly and to turn around because of ‘environmental concerns.’ Again. They approved every single inch of the design and execution. Many times over,” Seelbach said.

“The craft in question had a structural failure en route to the flight deck. As a result, the craft was unable to participate due to safety and environmental concerns,” a spokesperson for the event said.

Despite the controversy, several Cincinnati residents found the event to be an exciting representation of the city and its people.

“I thought the event was amazing,” Cincinnati resident Lainey Barschack said. “It was a great way for the people of Cincy to show off some truly impressive levels of creativity!”