International Birdman Competition Launches at UK Beach Resort

Magnificent aviators in not-so-magnificent “aircraft.”

Every year, intrepid birdmen (and women) launch from the end of a pier at the oceanside resort of Bognor Regis, West Sussex, England. The official purpose of the International Bognor Birdman competition is to see how far they can glide. The unofficial challenge is to see who makes the leap of faith with the most outlandish homemade contraption.

This year’s entries in the “Kingfisher” and “Leonardo da Vinci” classes included a cardboard facsimile of a Vespa motorscooter, an anvil, an unmasked diver wearing a Spiderman costume, and a not-so-robust version of the Star Trek Enterprise, which folded up immediately as the “pilots” began their race to the end of the pier.

The more serious Condor class of the competition is flown by legitimate hang gliders, and this year’s winner was instructor Ron Freeman, who coasted for about 8 seconds before sinking onto the ocean’s surface. Check out this video report of the competition here.

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