Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines 2009: Forget Odds

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines

I forget the odds against winning the lottery, but they’re probably similar to winning a bet on six weeks of unbroken sunshine across a
British summer! So a handful of rather more determined and resourceful individuals will be congregating in Worthing West Sussex this weekend, in the hope of scooping a £30,000 jackpot by winning the International Worthing Birdman competition. This is the kind of ridiculous event that could only ever be held in Britain, although apparently it not only attracts interest from around the world but raises many thousands of pounds for Charity. For the uninitiated, fifty or so would-be aviators, attempt to fly or glide themselves to victory by launching themselves off Worthing pier in an effort to remain airborne for as long as possible, before a gentle splashdown into the Channel. In most cases, their successes owe less to dedicated study of the and the evolution of aviation, and far more to the aeronautical creativity of Sir George Cayley (1773) and his initial concept of aerodynamics. The record for this latter day creative flight currently stands at 89.2 metres, which, to be fair, still trounces Orville Wright’s first flight in 1903, in North Carolina, which only lasted 36.5 metres. What a shame Orville won’t be there today! Or maybe he will, because this entire competition is conducted in farcical garb! Costumes and contraptions abound, and entrants so far include a giant puffin, a Hobbit, Inspector Gadget and a gent in full Highland Dress. Orville, the duck, that is, would be far from out of place! And given that all competitors will, inevitably, end up in the drink, the weather really couldn’t be better. For West Sussex, the weekend offers sunny spells and temperatures reaching 24 Celsius today 27 Celsius tomorrow. And although that constitutes a warm weekend it’s unlikely that anyone following the example of , with wings of feathers, thread and wax are likely to get close enough to the sun for it all to melt!
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