Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

68-Kilogram Hamburger Flies 1.2 Meters

NEW YORK -- Heli-Burger never had a chance. Maybe it was the twine-powered plastic foam propeller. Or the utter lack of aeronautic experience Team Heli-Burger brought to the table. Or maybe it was the cheese.

Whatever it was, the 68-kilogram would-be flying synthetic sandwich traveled exactly 1.2 meters off a 6.7-meter-high platform before plunging bun-first into the Hudson River on Sunday. It was perhaps the shortest distance a cheeseburger has flown. It was 35 meters shorter than the Wright Brothers' first flight.

Undeterred, a shivering wet Paul Luteman, who had helped launch Heli-Burger off the platform, exclaimed: "We went four feet? Dude!"

It was one milestone on a blustery day in which 35 half-hopeful, half-delusional inventors tried to demonstrate their acumen in flying things. The operative word is tried.

Their efforts were part of a publicity stunt for the Austrian energy drink Red Bull. (It "gives you wings," according to the company's slogan.) The event took place before thousands of people in Hudson River Park.

The goal of the proceedings (called Fluegtag, German for "flying day") was to launch a homemade, human-powered object off a barge and send it into the air as far it could go. Points were given for distance, creativity and showmanship. In reality, the whole thing turned into a well-orchestrated excuse to get dressed up in elaborate costumes, act weirdly and jump into the Hudson.

Most of the machines barely made it to the edge of the platform before they slipped off, their pilots tumbling out, hoping their inventions would not knock them unconscious before they hit the water.

"It was terrifying," said Heli-Burger's pilot, Ross Luteman, 31, of Philadelphia. "I was worried that the hamburger was going to impale me."

Asked why he entered, Luteman, a vice president for Moody Pet, a company that makes mood collars for animals, responded: "I like meat. I like hamburgers. And you can't make a steak fly. Burgers are more aerodynamic, steaks are not."