New World Record Glide Distance Set at 5th Annual BrewTag

Flying beer kegs marked the 5th Annual BrewTag at the Nags Head Event Site on Saturday.
Flying beer kegs marked the 5th Annual BrewTag at the Nags Head Event Site on Saturday.

Beer, evidently can fly. Or glide at least. That’s what we discovered today at the 5th Annual BrewTag in Nags Head.

Maybe the winds were just right; maybe the contestants are finally figuring out how to build a glider that will fly a small keg of beer (empty, or course). Perhaps the sheer number of contestants—15, the most ever—raised the competitive bar.

Or maybe it was just plain dumb luck.

Whatever it was, two of the best flights ever recorded at BrewTag happened this afternoon. the idea is to strap a 1/6 keg of beer—empty, of course—to a homemade glider, launch it from a 20’ tower and see how far it will fly.

We thought we had the all time winner when the Blue Crab Tavern team, representing the Colington Road bar and restaurant ripped off a 66’4” flight, besting the old mark by 9’. 

The team’s celebration was a thing to behold as they ran around the flight field cheering wildly as they carried their aircraft to safety.

Their joy was short-lived. Three flights later, team Late For Work shattered the Blue Crab Tavern record with an astonishing flight of 96’7”.

It is important to note that not every flight was a thing of beauty, gracefully soaring as the glider settled to the ground. There was stiff competition for the shortest flight of the day…12’6” just edging out 12’7”.  And quite a few of the aircraft did not survive the landing.

Nonetheless, from the vantage of flight, this was the most successful yet.

The day was also a very successful fundraiser—according to John Harris, the President of Kitty Hawk Kites who sponsored the event, the 2019 BrewTag raised more money than any had in the past.

That’s great news. Half of the proceeds will be going to Ocracoke through the Outer Banks Community Foundation’s Ocracoke Disaster Relief Fund. The remaining proceeds will help fund the Francis Rogallo Foundation. Francis Rogallo was a NASA engineer who, among other things, invented the Rogallo wing that is used in hang gliding.

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Jockey’s Ridge State Park Most Visited in NC

Jockey's Ridge in the summertime.
Jockey’s Ridge in the summertime.

Over 1.5 Million Visitors Last Year

We’ve always known that Jockey’s Ridge State Park is popular and the latest news from the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources confirms that.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park was the most visited North Carolina Park in 2017. According to NCDNCR 1,560,254 visitors came to the park last year, an increase of 19% over 2016.

Known to most visitors as the home of the Kitty Hawk Kites hang gliding school, the park is actually a small but remarkably diverse ecosystem. There is a dense maritime forest that has formed on the banks of the Croatan Sound; at the base of the eastern dunes a unique form of pond—a vernal pond appears after heavy rains. The ponds, which are wholly dependent on rainwater and are isolated from any form of drainage, support a number of species that have evolved to thrive in that environment.

Jockey’s Ridge—the huge sand dune that towers over the surrounding terrain of the park, is a living dune, meaning it is migrating—to the south, in this case—and varies significantly in height depending on wind and weather conditions. Typically the height of the dune ranges from 75’-100’.

It is an ideal location to learn how to hang glide. Sand is a much more forgiving median for landings that packed earth or rock and Outer Banks winds tend to be reliable.

Founded in 1974, the Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding School is the oldest in the nation, and may be the oldest in the world.

Visitation at Jockey’s Ridge has always been among the top five of the North Carolina state parks. The second most visited park was Fort Macon State Park in Atlantic Beach with 1,543,772 visitors.

Two parks in the Raleigh/Durham area, William B. Umstead State ParkJordan Lake State Recreation Area south of the Triangle also had very strong visitation.

BrewTag-Fun with Flight in Nags Head

Smarty Pints in flight. Almost the winner.
Smarty Pints in flight. Almost the winner.

BrewTag-Proving That Beer Can Fly

The 2nd Annual BrewTag was held at the Event Site in Nags Head yesterday—Saturday—and it proved conclusively that “Yes! Beer can fly!”

The premise to BrewTag is simple: strap a 1/6 keg of beer to a glider, toss it off a 25’ tower and see if it can fly.

Usually no…in fact, one of the flights was recorded at -9”, a difficult feat to achieve and a world record all its own. However, there were at least two flights that proved conclusively that when science, skill, inspiration and perhaps a little luck come together, all things are possible.

With 15 teams competing, the feeling was that something had to fly. The first teams climbed the latter to the top of the tower, facing a stiff 17mph breeze. The wind proved the undoing of the first five or six entries.

Then with the wind letting up just a bit, Smarty Pints—a group of engineers from Hampton Roads pushed their entry into the wind. But instead of the nose lifting in a flare and the aircraft stalling and crashing in spectacular fashion at the base of the tower, their glider began a graceful and gradual descent to the ground. A new world record…54’6”!

Three entries later, the local lads representing Buds and Suds, all retired hang glider instructors, climbed the to the top of the tower… their entry a faithful reproduction of a Rogallo Wing, the airfoil that created hang gliding. The keg was carefully placed at the best location to counter the wind.

To the amazement of all, it flew—gracefully, beautifully, coming go a soft landing 65’7” from the tower and a newer, new world record.

It was a great day and since BrewTag is a fundraiser for the Rogallo Foundation, having a Rogallo Wing wind the day seemed fitting.