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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Dental students make Flugtag attendees smile

Five Marquette dental students gained wings this weekend when they launched a giant tooth off a 30-foot platform into Lake Michigan.

Red Bull hosted its first National Flugtag Day Saturday in five cities across the United States. The “Frequent Flyer Smiles,” comprised of dental students Andrew Welles, Jimmy Kolstad, Joe Karlen, Michael Stangler and Tim Gainey, competed in Chicago.

“We really kind of wanted to have some fun, wanted to represent our professions,” Gainey said. “So we entered, and we got chosen to participate so we built a giant flying tooth and we’re here to show it off and see how far she flies today.”

Flugtag teams build a flying craft and launch it from a 30-foot-tall platform into a body of water. Contestants are not selected based on their ability to design a flying craft; only teams able to entertain a crowd are chosen to compete.

The Frequent Flyer Smiles were selected based on a video where the team helped the tooth fairy, played by Andrew Welles, discover Red Bull and find his wings again.

The Smiles were a crowd favorite Saturday. Before their flights, the teams and their crafts were on display for pictures and fan entertainment. Pilot Andrew Welles stood atop their 8-foot-high tooth, dancing in his tooth fairy costume while the rest of his crew grabbed fans walking by and took pictures with them.

“Yeah, that is the tooth fairy,” said Gainey. “We’re all the dentists and we’re helping him get his confidence, get his wings back, so we’ve got a big tooth, we’ve got some tooth paste wings, a tooth brush, we really want to make sure he can fly today.”

The first Red Bull Flugtag was held in Vienna, Austria in 1992. After gaining popularity in Europe, the first American Flugtag took flight in San Francisco Bay in 2002.

Flugtag judges consider three different categories when scoring teams: distance, creativity and showmanship. A fourth category, people’s choice, encourages teams to entertain fans through social media and their antics during the event to motivate them to vote via text message. The team with the highest average score out of all categories won an outing to skydive with the Red Bull Air Force.

“It’s a molar, we made the wings out of tooth paste tubes, added a tooth brush in the front,” Karlen said of the team’s machine. “I don’t know how aerodynamic it is, but it’s a creative piece.”

Jasmine Hempel, a junior in the College of Communication, did not know Marquette was going to be represented when she decided to come to Flugtag.

“I’m glad we’re able to come down here and support Marquette,” Hempel said. “It’s cool to see all the creativity and the hardwork that goes into these types of things.”

The Frequent Flyer Smiles pulled in almost 4,000 fan votes and came in 3rd place out of 30 entries in the people’s choice category.

Levi LaVallee, the world record holder for longest motorcycle jump at 412 feet, was one of the judges for the event.

“I did see the tooth craft,” LaVallee said. “Last I checked teeth don’t fly very well, but, you know, it had wings and maybe it will happen, maybe it will work. So I think they’re basing things off creativity, but maybe they’ve got an ace up their sleeve.”

When it came down to launch time, each team had to perform a choreographed dance on the flight deck to display their showmanship. The Frequent Flyer Smiles broke out into a dance complete with giant inflatable toothbrushes.

The giant tooth briefly took flight as the team pushed it off the platform, until it came crashing 30 feet straight down into the water.

Evan Peterson contributed to this report. 

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