Crowds of Japanese sightseers gathered on the shoreline of Biwako Lake recently to watch the daredevil performance of competitors in the fourth Japan International Birdman rally.
GV Birdmen aboard home-built wings that look like aircraft leap off pier at Lake Biwako, Japan. All drop into water (4 shots)
GV Crowds release multi-coloured balloons into the air
SV Young girl cheerleaders on beach
GV Crowd relax on sandy foreshore
SV AND GV Gliders lie in paddock
SV Competitors making last minute repairs to craft (4 shots)
GV Back view of tower where competitors jump
GV Competitor jumps from tower with delta winged craft, having some success
GV Another competitor meets some success but crashes into official launch
GV Competitors in flimsy looking craft glides for considerable distance before dropping into sea
SV Crowds cheering
GV Competitor leaving tower on what looks like a hang-glider
GV Two similar craft with wings take off. The second loses its wings before plunging into the water (2 shots)
SV Damaged craft on lakeside (2 shots)
SV Man in bumble bee craft, another in a goose-craft a third in a hen-craft
SV Goose-craft diving off tower and collapsing into water
SV Woman leaps off tower with umbrella
GV Hen-craft and eagle-craft off tower as crowd watches
GV Crowd look from beach
GV Winning leap as aircraft-like design skims across the water
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Crowds of Japanese sightseers gathered on the shoreline of Biwako Lake recently to watch the daredevil performance of competitors in the fourth Japan International Birdman rally. There was a festive atmosphere tot he competitors as spectators booed and cheered their favourites.
SYNOPSIS: After last-minute checks of equipment the 'birdmen' took turns at challenging the world record for sustained flight. But design faults were often their downfall.
It was a great day out for the family and most of the 119 entrants accepted the challenge seriously. The competition was sponsored by a television station and there was a cash prize to be won. With only a short run-up before the big drop traditional hang-gliders had no more chance of success than less conventional and even more ingenious machines.
Even before Leonardo da Vinci designed his imaginative machines centuries ago, men dreamed of man powered flight.
Many of the gliders invented by competitors worked well and covered respectable distances, but for some entrants it was 'back to the drawing-board'.
Some machines were constructed from modern light-weight materials and plastics, others were cobbled together from household junk--and not all the machines stood up to the ultimate test.
There was also a special comedy category, in which entrants were judged on the humour and originality of their costumes. There were twenty hopefuls for the comic flyer prize but few covered much distance.
Those who followed the birdman theme most closely generally had the least success--proving that if man had feathers he still wouldn't be able to fly.
But finally one man made the grade. With a glide over 101.6 metres (331 ft.) he set a new world record, and a tough challenge for next year's birdmen.