It started a couple months back when Marthaler e-mailed us and wondered what we knew about Flugtag. The answer at that point was "nothing." But we had just done a story via a PR person with Red Bull, the same entity putting on this Flugtag the Marth was talking about. So on behalf of all the good people of RandBall nation, including the Weekend Links maven himself, we set to work in figuring this thing out. First things first were some questions answered by our friendly PR contact:

Why do we care about Flugtag? Red Bull Flugtag is flying into Minneapolis-St. Paul Harriet Island this summer (July 24). The first time this flying spectacle has come to the Lands of 10,000 Lakes, it is sure to be an experience unlike any other witnessed before. Known for their flair for the dramatic, Minnesotans are sure to bring their very own creative touches to the launch pad.

What is Flugtag? For all first-time flyers, Red Bull Flugtag, which means “flying day” in German, is a competition that dares both the brave and the brainy to design, build and pilot homemade flying machines off a 30-foot high ramp in hopes of achieving human-powered flight. But don’t be fooled – this is no ordinary flying competition! While distance is important, creativity and showmanship are necessary to impress the judges. These criterion have inspired such outrageous crafts as a sky-high Popemobile, an airborne outhouse, a flying fire engine and even a replica of Santa and his sleigh to test their wings at Red Bull Flugtag. While the sky may be the limit on creativity, there are still a few flight regulations. First off, all flying machines must be entirely human-powered (no external energy sources or stored power, so forget about the slingshots, catapults or anything besides your own burliness.) Second, no matter what they say, size does matter – all crafts must be less than 30 feet wide and must weigh no more than 450lbs (including the pilot).

Got that? So the event is July 24 and it's free and open to the public. Yesterday, however, was the kickoff event. There were 426 applications on display at an event in St. Paul, with voters helping choose the 35 designs that would make the cut and get into the actual Flugtag. Given the opportunity to attend with such VIPs as St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and a bunch of guys in dresses, we hoped to find some strange and unique things. We were not disappointed.

First, the picture above: That's Jason Franke. He's one of four males who wore wigs and dresses as part of a crew called "Major Trouble and the Dirty Dixies." They brought about 50 people on a bus from a suburban bar in an attempt to sway voters to pick their craft. The team looks to be off to a good start with an elaborate Facebook page that has plenty of interaction. Franke, who previously worked as a mascot for several pro sports teams, including the Detroit Pistons, said "It's all about antics."

And now, pictures of our four favorite entries. Again, these are just designs. We have no idea how they will actually be built if they are chosen. But if they can be built, we are all for them:

1. Unicorn Lion Eagle Dragon

2. Two minutes for Diving: "The Flying Penalty Box."

3. Slap Shot-themed craft with "foil-wrapped fists."

4. Team Griswold's "Vacation"-inspired truckster.

Does that answer your question, Marthaler? If not, more to (hopefully) come on July 24.

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