Thursday, September 19, 2013

Keller engineers enter homemade aircraft in Red Bull event

Decked out in flight suits, five local mechanical/aerospace engineers will test their home-built aircraft Sept. 21 at the National Red Bull Flugtag in Irving.

The event, on the south shore of Lake Carolyn, is known at the world’s wildest homemade, human-powered flying craft competition and will take place simultaneously with other events in Washington D.C., Long Beach, Caif., Miami, Fla. and Chicago, Ill.

Keller residents Jared Paulson and Kyle Cravener along with Travis Jurell and Antonio Rucker of Fort Worth and Alan Falls of Arlington, are competing in the Irving event against 32 other teams from Texas, Oklahoma, Indiana, Arizona, Wyoming, Mississippi and Colorado.

The team, named Top Gun, began building their aircraft July 4. Last week, they were putting on finishing touches.

Paulson, 27, said the aircraft has a 28-foot wingspan and is 10 feet long, from nose to tail.

It will be launched from a stand over the lake from about 30 feet in the air.

Because teams will be judged by distance, creativity and showmanship rather than speed, Top Gun’s “need for speed” is replaced with the need for a nice glide across the lake in their human powered aircraft, modeled after fighter jets in the movie.

“I’m a little nervous,” said Cravener, the team pilot. “I hope to glide down nice and soft and land on the water. But we are super pumped to take our aircraft on its inaugural flight into the record books.”

Paulson said his team was selected from more than 300 entries.

“I don’t know their criteria but they wanted a sketch of our concept. It helps that we had CAD software to use ... and we had a really good sketch,” he said. “We also played on the fact that we are five nerds but we also have personality.”

To gain more points, participants can wear outrageous costumes, act out skits and create their own music for the flight.

Top Gun’s skit will be inspired by Tom Cruise’s “sexiness.”

Paulson said the project has been fun and a good experience for himself and the team.

“It’s kind of a mix of emotions,” he said. “It was so much hard work, once we launch it will only be alive for a few seconds. But we’re lucky to have gotten to participate.”

Red Bull Flugtag, known as “flying day” in German, has taken place worldwide for 12 years. The first event took place in 1991 in Vienna, Austria. The first U.S. event was in 2002 in San Francisco, Calif.

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