Central District

Seattle University students hoping to fly high in offbeat contest

Seattle University students hoping to fly high in offbeat contest
SEATTLE -- A group of Seattle University students is spending a lot of time and energy building an aircraft that's destined for the scrap heap.

What some might see as a fruitless exercise, the students see as a chance to make thousands of people laugh.

Every year, Red bull sponsors a Flugtag, which is a contest to see who can built the best off-the-wall, human-powered flying machine.

The goal is to build something outrageous, add a pilot, push it off the end of a 30-foot-hight pier and see how far it flies.

Trevor Umbinetti and Tommy Nguyen are prepping Rudy the Redhawk for this this year's competition. So far, the students would admit their aircraft is far from amazing, and would maybe fall short of being called an airplane.

"Nothing ever goes as planned in the real world," Nguyen said.

The pair, along with three other students, are using plywood, PVC pipe and plastic wrap to build double-winged Rudy.

The team has spent about $150 on the project, and they hope to take first prize in front of 100,000 people next week in Southern California. The the world -- and the team -- won't know how successful the aircraft is until the actual contest.

"The first time we see it fly and the first time you guys see it fly," Umbinetti said.

The current United States record is 207 feet, and the Seattle U team thinks Rudy can go 250 feet.

But with no test flights, the team's calculations better be right.

"There will be a lot of cameras on you, so if you die, it's well documented," Umbinetti said.

If Rudy takes first place, the entire team gets to sky dive with the Red Bull skydiving team.