The British Birdman competition must be the maddest flying competition in the world. The aim is to fly a homemade humanpowered aircraft for as long and as far as possible. Every year participants in silly costumes and absolutely mad flying equipment gather by a pier along the south coast of Britain only to throw themselves off hoping to fly long enough to get a share of the prize money. It is a hugely popular event that in later years has got a lot of international media attention.
The competition started back in 1971 in Selsey and was called the Birdman Rally. The challenge was then to fly 50 yards (which is about 46 m). The prize money was £ 1000. In 1978 the competition moved to Bognor Regis and was renamed Bognor Birdman. The pier in Bognor Regis was higher than the one in Selsey and the chances of anyone succeeding in achieving the prize increased.
In 1981 the first international teams arrived from Switzerland and Germany. In the years to come the international teams were successful and in 1983 Swiss team won. With arrival of international teams the competition got more media attention both in British and international media.
In 1992 Dave Bradshaw managed to fly 89.2 meters which is a still unbeaten record. In 2008 the competition had to move again, this time to Worthing. The competition is now called Worthing International Birdman Competition. The flying distance to achieve has been increase to 100m and so has the prize money which is now a staggering £ 30 000. There are three competition classes. Some contestants participate only to raise money for charity while other take the competition very seriously and aim hard to win the distance prize of £ 30 000.
It is a completely mad event that attracts thousands of spectators. If you would like to have a bit of fun, I highly recommend you to join the audience at The Birdman Competition or…for the more adventurous of you out there, why not build a your own airborne means of transport and participate.