Brooklyn bartender believes he can fly, almost gets skewered

This week's Public Eye features the pilot of a five-person-strong Brooklyn Public House team that entered its magnificent flying machine in the Red Bull Flugtag event.

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  • Red Bull Flugtag in Washington, D.C., September 2013

  • Photograph: Aaron Rogosin

    Red Bull Flugtag in Washington, D.C., September 2013

  • Photograph: Aaron Rogosin

    Red Bull Flugtag in Washington, D.C., September 2013

Red Bull Flugtag in Washington, D.C., September 2013


Humanity has always dreamt of breaking gravity’s bonds. Only recently has it succeeded, although some folks have been more successful than others. One dreamer is John Paul Michalik, a bartender at Brooklyn Public House. On September 21, he and four coworkers, including Rachel Romano pictured below, entered their Hello Kitty plane in the Red Bull Flugtag in Washington, D.C., which pits homemade flying machines against one another for fun, glory and possibly serious bodily harm. We snapped the duo before the event, then checked in with Michalik after to make sure he was still alive.


John Paul Michalik, 37, and Rachel Romano, 30; 169th St between 73rd and 75th Aves, Flushing, Queens

John Paul Michalik, 37, and Rachel Romano, 30; 169th St between 73rd and 75th Aves, Flushing, Queens Photograph: Sasha Maslov


I see you didn’t plummet to your death. Uh, came close. Almost got skewered.

How’d you get involved in designing your own flying machine? I’m a dreamer. I like making things and believing in the impossible.

I assume that means getting drunk and thinking this was a good idea. How long did it take to make the plane? All in, about 60 hours.

Do you have experience doing this kind of thing? I’ve done a couple of these. There have been other ones where I’ve spent way more time and money. And it’s always fun, but at the end of the day, you’re up there for 30 seconds, and all of that time and energy ends up getting thrown into a giant garbage barge. Then you get home and think, Oh, what was I thinking?

You get good stories, at least. I’m looking at one of the pictures now, one of a crazy person getting pushed off a platform. Liftoff, I guess? [Laughs] Yeah, nosedive is more appropriate.
Is that you up there? Yeah, it’s me in the pink pants.

Nice. Yeah, it’s very aerodynamic. Everything was spot-on. I had three people pushing and doing sprints beforehand, but when it came to it, they just forgot to push. We calculated that an average person can run about 17 miles per hour, max speed. We needed to hit 15 to 17 miles per hour, which was totally doable, but… At the time I was up there, it felt like they were going so-so, but watching the video, they were just trotting along like they were doing a 5K.

They panicked and forgot the training? Yeah. People thought ours would be more likely to fly.

Maybe humans just weren’t meant to fly. [Laughs] I mean, yeah and no.

Next week: A Google Glass wearer on the ultimate Google Glass faux pass.


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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)

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