Friday, August 05, 2005

Mysteries of human behavior II

In the Telegraph: "The International Bognor Birdman Festival."
You are 35ft above sea level, with a garage door strapped to your back in lieu of wings. The wind drops and you are cleared for take-off. Launching forwards, you jump as a gust arrives and flips your wings up and over, sending you plummeting gracelessly down to smash through the door and into the waters off Bognor Pier. The 30,000-strong crowd wince - that's got to hurt...

International Bognor Birdman combines the sublime with the ridiculous. George Abel first created a "mass rally of leaping idiots", as he called it, in 1971 as a fund-raising event. While those magnificent machines failed to fly, the idea took off.

Today's Birdman is a mix of eccentric madness and intense competition, all wrapped in boundless enthusiasm. There are three classes of machine. The Leonardo da Vinci rewards innovation and creativity. Down the years flying pubs, pianos and over-sized bumble bees have chased Icarian dreams...

Ian Jackson, by day a 34-year-old landscape architect from Alton, is flying off the pier as Santa drawn by four inflatable reindeer. "If they don't fly, they'll be buoyancy aids," says Jackson.
"Anyone can take part in International Birdman Bognor. Entry costs £50. Construction costs vary, with most spending £200-£300 and taking 80-160 hours to build their machines. This year's event is on August 20-21. For more details, see"


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