A bunch of us went off to Namco on Thursday, where we tried out "Dance Dance Revolution eXtreme!". Not sure about the "eXtreme!" bit, but there you go. I was amused by the copyright notice that appeared before each game, saying "This machine is only for sale or use in Japan"... Anyway, I actually made it through all 3 rounds this time (which is better than I did last time), although it's a different machine, so it may be easier. Shame about the music selection available though. After that, I went on a motorbike racing game, but my actual experience of riding a motorbike didn't really help much (since I came last), so I have therefore decided that the game is unrealistic.
Yesterday, I went off for another swimming lesson. Strangely, breaststroke is now my weakest stroke, when I always used to think of it as "the soft option". Anyway, I'll keep practicing that. Meanwhile, a bit more diving, and I accidentally wound up doing a belly flop. Oops. Ah well, it seemed to amuse the other people in the class, anyway.
This afternoon I went off to the Red Bull Flugtag in Hyde Park. This was quite fun, although it was very busy, but fortunately I was able to find a position where I could see the actual launch ramp, rather than just a TV screen. Although in retrospect I should have taken my binoculars along. The weather was very good (and my neck is now slightly pink), so I think the various vendors made a killing on selling drinks.
I think having 40 contestants may have been a little excessive - I'd probably have restricted it to 25. But the best entries were nicely spaced out (I don't know how planned that was), so I didn't really get bored. Actually, I think that the people who took pedal boats out on the river had the best idea - they had a front row view, and were able to stay sitting down the whole time. That looks like it could be quite fun to do sometime (when the park is less crowded).
The event was hosted by Tess Daly and Brian Dowling (from SM:TV Live) - I personally stopped watching the show when they took over. Nothing against Ms Daly, but Brian Dowling drove me up the wall. However, he wasn't too annoying today. Possibly because I only heard his voice, he kind of blurred together with Graham Norton in my mind... Words of wisdom from Brian:
"You guys look quite different without your masks on. Although I suppose you would do, really..." (referring to a team who wore rubber masks to look like famous politicians before they jumped into the river).
Then later, when Brian and Tess were talking to the "Flying Pub" team (whose plane had a working bar):
Brian: "So, have you all had a drink from here earlier?"
Tess (interrupting): "Well, I hope not, because it wouldn't make the Health and Safety staff very happy!"
She didn't actually say "Hint, hint!", but I think it was implied.
Meanwhile, Christine Hamilton (one of the judges) was getting progressively more drunk as the afternoon progressed.
Having seen all the entries, it seems like distance is based on the shortest distance from part of your machine to the ramp. So, for instance, if you have a glider with a tail, and you do a nose-dive into the water, and then the tail settles down as the plane becomes horizontal, the distance will be counted from the tail to the ramp, not the nose to the ramp. To get round this, it looks like you either need to tip over (so that the plane finishes upside down, with the tail on the far side of the water from the ramp), or pivot the plane round on landing (as the muppets did), so that you are right-way up, but facing the ramp. Disposable undercarriages (a la "Fireball XL5") worked nicely too - I assume that they don't count towards the overall distance. Actually, one of the entries (Monkey Island) was basically a yellow dinghy, with no wings etc., and I was surprised at how well it did. In many cases, it seems to be the weight of the machine which is the limiting factor (since people who jumped off the ramp could get further), so I'm guessing that this helped. Mind you, I hear that the pilot broke his tailbone on impact, which is unfortunate - I hadn't actually realised that there were any injuries while I was there. Although there was one guy there who said that he was supposed to be shot out of a cannon over the river, but he'd twisted his ankle before the event started, so he couldn't do it after all.
One other problem seemed to be when the machine went into the air, but then the back of it hit the ramp on the way down, which then meant that the whole plane pivoted around it, and wound up nose-diving sooner than expected.
I personally think that a dragon would be quite a nifty machine to build. You then have the wings, and a pointed snout (aerodynamic), assuming that its mouth is closed. You could put wheels on each of the legs, then maybe pull a lever to retract them once you're airborne. Maybe in the next event.
Obviously the main goal here was entertainment, rather than breaking new ground in aviation techniques, and there were a few entries that had clearly put a lot of work into it. In particular, the Muppets were great, with full costumes (Kermit, Gonzo, Statler, Waldorf), and a chicken firing cannon. Similarly, I liked the Austin Powers entry (a smaller replica of his union jack mini under a hang glider). And the pink flamingo was extremely pink! Some of the dances got a bit tiresome by the end of the event (I just wanted them to get on with the actual launches), but in fairness they had to kill time while they were waiting for the wreckage to be cleared from the water. And one of the teams (I don't recall which one) gets credit for choosing the "Top Gun" music.
A couple of things that didn't get filmed (for the large screens in the park) - a man swimming around naked with his underwear on his head, and another guy who'd got onto the roof of a building near the river, and took a running jump off the roof into the river.
The Flugtag is being shown on ITV1 next Saturday (9th August) from 12:30 to 13:00, but since the event today lasted over 4 hours, they will obviously have to restrict it to the highlights. Probably worth watching, if you didn't go along today. And Billy has some photos from the event on his website.