Students fly a fish in Portland glider competition

Fly fishing is one of the most popular forms of recreation for Montana State students, but what about flying a fish? On Aug. 1, five MSU students tried just that while competing in the Red Bull Flugtag competition hosted in Portland, Oregon.

The Flugtag competition requires teams to construct a glider and hope that it flies the longest distance. Teams are also judged on the quality of the gliders themselves and creativity.

“Team Montucky,” comprised of students Ryan Becker, Riley Daily, Jeremy Walker, Nathan Peterson and Matt Geulin, earned its name after the five secured Montucky Cold Snacks as their sponsor. Caras Real Estate also helped with financial needs, and Steel Etc. donated all the metal needed in constructing their homemade flying machine.

Becker, the team’s captain, said he originally heard about the competition “through social media and advertising.” Becker continued, “We were stoked it was in Portland because that’s where [Geulin] and I currently live during the summer. We reached out to Montana State’s Red Bull rep Jay Brooks who helped it all come together.“

After the students secured their sponsors, they began construction on their giant flying fish. “We build a rainbow trout with wings,” Becker said. “We wanted to keep the Montana theme, and we all love fly fishing.”

Their final product, named “Mittens the Fish” was then featured on the local Portland news station KATUTV. When asked about the name Mittens, the team explained that during construction their cats just wouldn’t leave the flying fish alone.

The maiden voyage for Team Montucky was successful, flying Mittens 57 feet. Team “I Dream of Jeannie” ended up winning the Flugtag with a flight distance of 84 feet. Even though the team didn’t end up on the podium, Becker seemed happy with their performance: “We didn’t fly as far as we wanted,” he said, “But we placed in the top third of the teams. The fish looked great and scored high points in the design category.”

Becker stated that “if we were to build the craft again we would get our craft balanced more evenly and also lighter.” Team Montucky is unsure if they will find themselves in another Flugtag event, but expressed interest in other “build-it-to-win-it” type competitions, such as Soap Box races.

The crowd at Flugtag numbered over 90,000, Team Montucky all agreed they had the time of their lives. They particularly enjoyed their experience while at the Red Bull hangar, where many teams each gathered with their constructed flying machines.

Becker also noted the amount of support the team received while in Portland from other MSU students that came to see their flying fish.

“My favorite moment of Flugtag was being able to take photos with all of our fans in the Red Bull Hangar. The kids loved to pose with the fish … overall it was just a fantastic time,” said Becker.