bourbon flight 3 Team Bourbon

All photos courtesy Team Bourbon.

Redbull started hosting Flugtag in Austria in 1991. Teams build homemade flying devices and try to fly them off a ramp over a body of water, mostly for fun and entertainment. Since then they have held events all over the world, including Nashville and Portland. Now for the first time Louisville, Kentucky will host Flugtag on August 27th. Forty teams were chosen from hundreds of applications. While there are teams participating from all over the United States there are also many local teams with Louisville-centric themes including Fear and Loathing, Kentucky Flying Colonels, and The Greatest. But one team that stands out among all the competitors as something that represents the best of the best that Louisville has to offer is Team Bourbon Flight.

“We wanted to represent the city in the best way we could,” says team founder Shawn Clark, noting the event will bring Louisville into the global spotlight. “Plus, we love bourbon,” he adds. The vessel is made from PVC pipes and foam and is painted to resemble a bourbon barrel dipped in dripping red wax. It measures in at 28 feet wide and seven feet long. Clark will pilot the vessel, ten feet off the ground, as his teammates push it down the ramp.

Shawn Clark adds the finishing touches to a section of SS Cask Stength

Shawn Clark adds the finishing touches to a section of SS Cask Stength

If all goes according to plan, the 120 pound craft will separate from its base at the end of the ramp and go soaring through the air before hitting the Ohio River at flight’s end. Though it is shaped like a bourbon barrel the design is modeled after an actual barrel-shaped airplane that once held the air speed record. The SS Cask Strength features four bourbon shot stabilizers on the wings- the “bourbon flight”- as well as a functioning elevator on the tail Clark will be able to control as he pilots the aircraft.

The team is made up of bourbon lovers who also dabble in related fields. Bob Lillie has a long history building remote controlled planes. Thomas Forsha is a bourbon lover. Thomas Morrell owns an aircraft maintenance company in Louisville called TKM Aviation. Chris Brewer is a mechanical engineer. “Silent partner” Ingrid Korgemani has lent her bourbon knowledge to the team and has also contributed to the paint job on the aircraft.

Flugtag teams are made up of five people- one pilot and four who push the craft down the 100 foot ramp. The aircraft has to be all man powered with no mechanics whatsoever. There are three criteria for winning: does it fly and how far, crowd engagement on a 30-second skit, and online votes for the fan favorite (you can vote for Team Bourbon Flight here). Clark will be required to wear a helmet, a life jacket, and closed toe shoes, and he will be atop the aircraft, not inside it, for safety reasons.

The skit Team Bourbon Flight plans to perform will be based on Prohibition. Team members will be dressed as four bootleggers and a Keystone Cop, while the aircraft will represent their way to hide and transport their illegal whiskey.

The team has been building their craft for almost 3 months. They will deliver it to the site of the Flugtag on Friday August 26th and begin final assembly and last minute tune-ups at 9 a.m. August 27th. Gates open to the public at 11 a.m. at Waterfront Park on August 27th. Good luck Team Bourbon Flight!