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Sebastian takes flight

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    It was Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, all over again as UM's Ibis Engineers successfully flew their Ibis-inspired aircraft a distance of 48 feet to win the Red Bull Flugtag Miami.

    Those magnificent University of Miami students in their flying machine must have felt like the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, as they perched their Ibis-inspired plane on the edge of a 30-foot deck at Bayfront Park in Miami on July 10, hoping their winged contraption would soar high and long. To their delight, the single-pilot glider, made of wire frame and plywood, did just that, flying a distance of 48 feet before splashing down safely—and intact—in Biscayne Bay as some 85,000 spectators cheered them on.

    For these five flying aces—College of Engineering students and members of the UM chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers—the effort was good enough to win second place in the Red Bull Flugtag Miami, an event in which 35 teams tested the limits of human flight by piloting their manmade aircraft off a deck, eventually descending into Biscayne Bay.

    The Ibis Engineers team of pilot Guillermo Amador and the flight crew of Derek Schesser, Dustin Griner, William T. Hagen, and Randall Schwartz modeled their plane after the school’s popular Sebastian the Ibis, outfitting it with the mascot’s familiar corncob pipe and facial expression. The craft, like all the others in the competition, was judged on flight distance, originality, and showmanship.

    Team Formula Flug from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, won the top spot with their winged Formula One racecar.

    Photo Credit: Blythe Nobleman/UM College of Engineering

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