Flights of fancy raise laughter at Dún Laoghaire

Red Bull Flugtag’s 43 plummeting entries linger for seconds before falling into sea

A real descendent of Ireland's most famous explorer and a not-so-real pope were among the marvellous men and women and their flying machines who ended up in the drink off Dún Laoghaire on Sunday afternoon.

Virtually every one of the 43 home-made "planes" which took part in the Red Bull Flugtag were useless and unable to stay in the air for longer than a second – much to the delight of more than 60,000 people who poured into the seaside town for the event.

Each time a home-made flying machine launched itself off the 9m-high flight deck before coming an instant cropper and tumbling straight into the water, the spectators on the pier howled with laughter.

As the crowd cheered another comic dunking, a man in a Donald Trump mask stood getting ready to help his entry, which he called Air Force One, soar over Dublin Bay.


He introduced himself as Simon Rudd and said his team was "here to make Dún Laoghaire great again. And we want to build a wall around the town to keep out the rest of Dublin."

Engineering experience

He explained that Air Force One had taken about four weeks to build but with “absolutely no engineering experience” he did not expect his team do well. It didn’t.

While Team Trump may not have had any experience building planes, they did have adventuring in their genes. Rudd pointed to a team mate wearing a Kim Jong-un mask.

"He's David Shackleton and yes he IS related to Ernest."

David Shackleton’s great-great-granduncle was the explorer, in fact.

“His ship sank and I dare to say that our ship will sink too,” the younger Shackleton said. “Mind you he got all his men back home safe and that is what we are going to do too.”

In truth, there was no risk to any member of Trump Team – or any other teams – as everyone who ended up in the water was scooped out of the water almost as soon as they hit it.

Few competitors hit the water faster than the pope. The Popemobile was built by a team of four, all with engineering degrees from UCD. But their effort was not the best advert for the course.

Power of prayer

Before they set off for the pier, they explained that their craft had disintegrated while being transported up to Dublin from its Limerick base and had to be hastily reassembled on Saturday evening.

“We’re relying on the power of prayer,” said Seán Hynes.

Prayer let his team down. As the papal team did their final preparation, the Angelus Bells rang out and while their run-up was flawless, things quickly began to fall apart as they approached the water. While the team managed to travel 9m, it was all in a downward direction.

Despite having no wings, the Luas-themed "plane" made by staff at Spin 103.8 FM managed to finish in second place but their sterling efforts were easily matched by the Pink Panthers from Kildare, whose film-themed craft glided 12m before crashlanding into the harbour below.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast