They came, they saw, they... crashed into the Delaware River.
In machines powered only by the creators' strength, ingenuity and fearlessness, 33 teams competed Saturday for Red Bull Flugtag glory at the Camden waterfront. The teams each flew their contraptions off of a 30-foot-high dock in an attempt to glide far and impress the judges with their panache.
"Flugtag" is German for "flying day," and in the 20 years since the first one was held in Vienna, Red Bull has sponsored 80 Flugtags worldwide.
Saturday's event attracted thousands of spectators. Boats and kayaks crowded the river and crowds lined the banks on a picture-perfect September day.
The best distance of the day went to "New Kids on the Dock," a group of local Philly boys who rode their lobster-shaped craft an amazing 45 feet. It was far less than the current World Record of 227 feet, set earlier this year.
Second-place honors went to "Beast of Amis," a team from Chef Mark Vetri's restaurant staff, whose large, pink flying sausage achieved the second-best distance of the day.
The People's Choice Award went to "Team Hawkward" of St. Joseph's University, the team that secured the most votes by text.
One record was established Saturday: the longest negative flight in Flugtag history, owing to the strong headwinds on the day. These also resulted in some close calls, notably that of the "Brick House Bullies," the second-place People's Choice Award winners, whose pilot Melissa Kessler suffered a scary fall backwards on to the flight deck.
Kessler was cleared by medical personnel, but safety concerns for the remainder of the event prompted officials to rule that no more pilots would fly with their crafts—although many still jumped in after them.
Teams and their crafts were judged in three categories for overall honors: flight distance, creativity and showmanship. Among the local celebrity judges at the event were WMMR morning radio show hosts Preston & Steve.
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