Living Lands and Waters made a major splash on the Ohio River last weekend, but it was all in the name of fun.
Leah Cafarelli, marketing manager for Living Lands and Waters was the pilot for River Cleanup, the airplane the group built to enter the Red Bull Flugtag. She said their entry wasn’t planned in advance but was a case of being in the right place at the right time.
“We work in Cincinnati quite a bit each year, so we had already planned for our barges to be in that area,” said Cafarelli. “Our captain actually heard about the Red Bull Flugtag coming to Cincinnati, so it all just lined up with our schedule. We were like ‘hey why not, let’s give it a go. You have to try it.’ It was mostly for fun, but (it’s) always good to get the word out about what we’re doing in interesting ways.”
Red Bull hosts events like Flugtag all over the world, but the competition in Cincinnati was their one stop for the year in the U.S. Teams applied to be in the competition and then build their own handmade planes that were launched from a big ramp into the Ohio River. The River Cleanup plane was built mostly from trash pulled from waterways. Planes flying the furthest weren’t automatically declared winners; other factors contributed to an overall win, including style points for the look of the aircraft. Each team had to perform a 30 second skit as part of the competition.
Planes in the competition were people powered, no engines allowed. They also had to be built so the crew could easily escape after the water landing. “We ended up tying for the third longest flight of the day out of, I believe, 40 teams or so,” said Cafarelli, who said landing in the Ohio River didn’t hurt at all. At first, it didn’t look like the plane would be able to fly. “As we were rolling our craft up to the launch point, a strong gust of wind came in and broke one of the one of the wings loose, so we had a loose brace,” said Cafarelli. “If you look at the video, the one wing does end up falling off, but it helped give me plenty of space to escape from the craft. I honestly don’t remember too much from the moment, there was just a lot of adrenaline and excitement.”
While LL&W tied for third for the longest flight, their skit performance and style points helped them secure second place overall and a trophy. Cararelli isn’t sure there’s going to be another try. “I’m not sure if we’ll seek them out but we’re always down for something different if it pops in our wheelhouse.”
For more information on Living Lands and Waters, including Flugtag photos, click here.