The Three Rivers Regatta, a three-day aquatics extravaganza, took place in Pittsburgh over the weekend. Over 600,000 people attended and hundreds of rowdy youths reportedly got into fights, but more importantly, the boldest and dumbest tried to fly during Saturday’s Flugtag, a modern-day Franz Reichelt contest. Thirty-seven teams hopped onto homemade man-powered flying machines and attempted to pilot them over the river. One team made it 121 feet, but everyone crashed eventually, and nobody went down more emphatically than Walt Czekaj.
Czekaj and his Back to the Future crew constructed a giant skateboard, on which he rode, briefly, before slamming onto it after the contraption slapped the surface of the river (here’s an even better angle). Czekaj was knocked out by the impact and said he didn’t remember anything after he was about five feet above the board. He lay motionless on the board before being taken to the hospital, where he received 18 stitches and was diagnosed with bruised ribs.
Czekaj had a plan to avoid such a catastrophe, but he realized just after taking off that he’d fucked up:
“My plan was to ride it for half a second after it cleared the platform, and then at that point, jump off on one side,” Mr. Czekaj recalled. “As soon as it cleared the platform, there was nothing for me to push off of. Very quickly I saw that we were both going down separately.”
Somehow, Czekaj and his team finished firmly in the middle of the pack at 20th, which must be demoralizing for the 17 teams who finished behind a man who was knocked out by his own skateboard glider.