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Michael Conzemius and his friends will take part in the Red Bull Flugtag on Saturday

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Michael Conzemius and his friends will take part in the Red Bull Flugtag on Saturday
Hastings Minnesota 745 Spiral Boulevard 55033

The best case for Michael Conzemius on Saturday? It will be that he is safely pulled from the waters of the Mississippi River after falling from a platform 30 feet high while thousands of people clap and laugh at him.

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Worst case? He lands on a flying (kind of) penalty box.

Welcome to the Red Bull Flugtag.

Conzemius, a 2005 Hastings graduate, and his college buddies from Saint John's University are one of just 35 teams who were accepted to compete in the Twin Cities version of the event, planned for 1 p.m. Saturday, July 24, at Harriet Island in St. Paul. Approximately 700 teams vied for a coveted spot in the event.

Several months ago, Conzemius and friend Adam Sheldon were chatting and Sheldon brought up the idea. He was going to be in Minnesota for the month of July, and the timing would be just right. Sheldon asked Conzemius if he could work up some plans so the team could have a formal entry into the competition.

Conzemius got to work, building a 3-D model of the design, which they are calling The Flying Penalty Box. That name implies the design will fly. Conzemius is confident it will not.

"We're definitely not trying to win the long distance competition," he said. "We're just trying to have fun with it."

Conzemius figures the farthest the penalty box will fly will be 40 feet - and that's after the team gets started on the 30-foot platform.

Meanwhile, Conzemius has heard that other teams are staffed with aeronautical engineers and the like.

"None of us are really close to that," he said. "We didn't really try to be aeronautical engineers, either. We're just there to have a fun time and have a few laughs along the way."

The platform for the flying penalty box is an old shipping pallet. Wood beams make up the foundation and a chemical composite the team found at Menards makes up the boards.

"It was cheap, and it was white," Conzemius said about the team's choice of material.

Styrofoam will line the inside of the penalty box so that when the contraption falls into the water, the pilot of the craft won't "lose his head," Conzemius said.

With the pilot seated inside the craft, the other four members of team "2 Minutes for Flying" will run as fast as they can and push the penalty box off the platform and, inevitably, into the Mississippi.

They'll be looking for style points along the way. A lot is on the line for the team. The winning team gets an excursion on Red Bull's Albatross amphibious airplane. The second place team gets to go skydiving and the third-place team wins a Red Bull-hosted party at a bar. The People's Choice Award winners earn a paragliding trip for the team.

"It has been fun already," Conzemius said. "The last three or four weekends, we've been building it at my friend's place in Maple Grove. We're actually seeing some pretty good progress. We're working on the paint job and finishing up the wings. We're adding some bells and whistles to make us stand out a little bit more."

Conzemius recently earned his degree in architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and now works at the Target corporate headquarters in Minneapolis. He is the son of Nick and Cheryl Conzemius of Hastings.

The team's pilot will be Andy Einhaus. Deckhands are Conzemius, Adam Sheldon, Jake Budde and Kyle Stark.

The team members will all be dressed in Saint John's hockey jerseys and breezers.

Joseph Conzemius, a 2003 graduate of Hastings High School and Michael's brother, will be the team's coach.

"We're thinking, hopefully, that he'll be our coach," Michael Conzemius said. "We'll have him in a suit and maybe a mullet or something."

For more information, visit http://www.redbullflugtagusa.com/TwinCities2010.

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Chad Richardson
Chad Richardson is the publisher and editor at the Hastings Star Gazette. He was the general manager of the Farmington Independent and Rosemount Town Pages from 2000 to 2007. He previously worked at the Star Gazette from 1996 to 2000 as a photographer and reporter. He also worked as a photographer and writer at the Pope County Tribune in Glenwood.
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