The image above is of a cosplayer for Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. This story is not about him… but it could be. The outfit’s right.
The International Birdman Competition began in 1971 in West Sussex, England, and consisted of people running off of a pier and into the water. They weren’t simply jumping in; rather, all of the competitors were wearing or carrying some sort of device which, they hoped, would allow them some limited measure of flight.
They were all disappointed. But much fun was had, and the community decided to hold the event again. It spread to encompass two piers in nearby towns, and was held every year until financial troubles caused the competition to end in 2016.
Wings were, of course, popular. Sewn into outfits or hand-held, many people found inspiration from birds only to discover the value of extremely light weights, virtually no digestive systems and hollow bones. While birds are capable of majestic flights, the wings of people tend to fold, break apart, or in some cases retained their integrity but did nothing to slow the inevitable splash into the water below.
Small gliders quickly came into fashion, and historically have the best track record of achieving a limited flight.
Then there are the people who dress up and step off the pier in the hope that they will be able to follow Douglas Adams’ dictum of throwing themselves at the ground and missing.
Still, under the current restrictions no sports are being played, and sports channels are replaying old games. In recognition of that, it seems reasonable to go back and visit a competition that is no longer being held. (At least in England… various other sites throughout the world have picked up the banner for all the people who want to splash into the water from a high pier.)
Question of the night: Are there any “rerun” sports you find yourself enjoying on television during quarantine?