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Published on : Saturday, July 13, 2013
The Bognor Birdman event kicked off today at the seaside resort of Bognor Regis, Sussex in England. Each year human ‘birdmen’ fling themselves off a pier at the seaside resort to see who can ‘fly’ the furthest. Expect crazy costumes, complex man-powered flying machines and plenty of silly fun. A prize of £30,000 is offered for the furthest flight over 100 metres.
The event started in 1971 as the International Bird-Man Rally in Selsey on the coast of Sussex. The event was initiated by George Abel, as part of a fundraising activity for the Selsey branch of the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA) Club.
Abel, a former RAF photographer, emigrated to Australia shortly afterwards, where he also helped to organise Birdman events.
In 1978, organisers were informed they could no longer use the pier at Selsey and the event was moved to Bognor Regis. By 1983, the competition had attracted European teams and the attention of the BBC. In 2008, because of the demolition of an 18 metre (60 ft) length of the end of Bognor pier, the 2008 Birdman event was not staged in Bognor, due to safety concerns over water depth at high tide being 13 feet (4.0 m) at the new end of the pier. The 2008 and 2009 competitions were held in Worthing as a result of the safety concerns.
After safety checks in 2009 the water depth was cleared by the Health and Safety Executive as safe for competition. Events have subsequently been staged in both Worthing and Bognor Regis, creating the International Birdman Series.