Arts & Entertainment

F.C. Team Prepares for Red Bull Flugtag Leap


They’ve run relays, manned whitewater rafts, and, most recently, scaled mountains. And this Saturday, the Falls Church-based adventure squad Unicorn Hunters will be sending a manned craft off of a 10-meter Olympic high-dive as part of the National Red Bull Flugtag.

Will it fly?

Pilot Derek Anderson, of Falls Church, thinks not.

“It’s not so much the craft, but the pilot – me – weighs 240 pounds,” Anderson said. “I’m not an engineer, but I know enough about science to know that the odds are not in our favor.”

330flugtag2Indeed he isn’t an engineer, and neither are his teammates. The team of five – rounded out by crewmembers James Bixby, Emma Hand, Katie Harsanyi, and Maryanne Hatch – comprises colleagues in law and finance. This established band of thrill-seekers applied to compete as one of more than 30 teams in the D.C. area flugtag.

The long-running contest, named for the German “flight day,” will see teams of five compete in five cities across the U.S. Saturday. Their crafts will be judged for distance flown, creativity of craft, and showmanship.

When it’s time to take the plunge, a single pilot boards the craft and is pushed by his or her team members into the water below.

Anderson will be taking his dive into the Potomac River at National Harbor, strapped into a unicorn-shaped craft made of papier-mâché – including, the pilot says, several copies of the News-Press. After the area is cleared, his teammates will get the chance to jump as well.

“I was in the Marines for 20 years, so this is not anywhere near the stupidest thing I’ve ever done,” Anderson said.

The flugtag isn’t the first the D.C.-area will see of Unicorn Hunters – and their unicorn masks – nor will it be the last, Anderson says. There are several relays in the area that the team members may take part in, and the Ragnar Relay Series – a 200-mile, day-and-night race – is of particular interest.

“We’re just on the lookout for crazy stuff to do,” Anderson said.