ORINDA -- A mustachioed team of amateur aircraft builders will launch their friend, William Hinkamp, off a 30-foot ramp and into the cold waters of McCovey Cove this weekend.
Orinda resident Hinkamp, 23, and his team are hoping to win the annual Red Bull Flugtag competition Saturday, when 37 teams will be flying for distance and style in homemade, human-powered aircraft.
Hinkamp's team, called the Movember Mustaches, will be sporting large mustaches and will perform a skit on the launching platform before shoving their aircraft into the bay. They named the team after an annual prostate and testicular cancer awareness event held each November, for which men are encouraged to grow mustaches.
Team Movember's aircraft looks like a common glider, except it's made of PVC pipe and braided steel cables, papered over with Tyvek non-permeable cloth.
"It's like a science project for big kids," said Alamo resident Morgan Oliver-Allen.
Hinkamp, Oliver-Allen, 23, Brian Wilcox, 24, of Oakland, Paul Nash, 31, an Australian who lives in San Francisco, and Greg Papierniak, 25, a former Alamo resident who lives in San Francisco, helped build Team Movember's aircraft in Hinkamp's backyard.
"We don't have time to test it out for fear that it might break," Hinkamp said. "I'd like to think it's going to fly, and I hope it does."
Flugtag means flying day in German. In 1991, the first Flugtag competition was held in Vienna, Austria, where amateur fliers tried to outdistance each other in human-powered aircraft. The first Flugtag in the U.S. was held in San Francisco in 2002. Now the competitions are held across the country.
Flugtag is less about flying and more about having a good time. Participants dress up in costumes and perform for the crowd from atop the launching platform. More often than not, their aircraft take nosedives directly into the drink.
None of the members of Team Movember have any experience building or flying aircraft. They watched YouTube videos of past contests to find out which aircraft designs worked best.
The competition has seen some unconventional designs, such as flying pigs, pizzas and giant chickens, but Team Movember decided to go with a conventional glider design.
"It's taken us about 200 hours of work to build it," Wilcox said.
They're hoping to break the competition distance record of 229 feet set in Germany last June.
Wilcox said he and Hinkamp know about building things from their fathers, who are both general contractors. "But we've never built anything that could actually fly," he said.
"This, in itself, is not any kind of aeronautical progress, but it promotes people going beyond their capacities to try something new," Hinkamp said. "It's in the spirit of overcoming something, or at least trying to. Why not? It's fun."
The first place team will win a day of skydiving alongside the Red Bull Air Force.
For more information on Flugtag, go to www.redbullflugtagusa.com.
Contact Jason Sweeney at 925-847-2123. Follow him at Twitter.com/Jason_Sweeney.
When: The Hangar opens at 11 a.m. Saturday; the first flight will be at 1 p.m.
Where: Lot A and McCovey Cove at AT&T Park, San Francisco. AT&T Park will be open with outfield seating and event broadcast on the big screen.
Details: Go to www.redbullflugtagusa.com.