Local legends fly or flop at Moomba

See splashes, spills and thrills as everyday Melburnians attempt to soar across the Yarra River using nifty flying machines or simply superhero bravado at Moomba’s ever-popular Birdman Rally.

Dating back to 1976, the Birdman Rally is a hilarious spectacle for a great cause. This year, 18 competitors will raise money for charities and compete for the grand prize.

Competitors enter the event under two categories: ‘Fly’ is for serious and technical flyers competing for distance rather than showmanship, while ‘Flop’ is all about fun, and judged on the creativity of the flying costume and supporting team.

Michael Paul has entered the Birdman Rally 17 times since his first leap in 1991. In 2020, he’ll again raise funds for MS Australia in honour of his younger brother, who has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

This year Michael aims to beat his personal best of 27.5 metres in his aluminium-framed craft, which has an eight metre wingspan.

Despite being a private pilot, and developing his craft over many years, Michael said nothing prepares you for Moomba.

‘There are three parts to Birdman: building a craft that holds together, the all-important take-off and, once you’re in the air, actually knowing how to fly,’ said Michael.

‘In all these years, I’ve only had perfect wind conditions on three occasions, but I’m addicted. The appeal lies in the age-old question: “can man fly?” It’s a thrill to build something with your own hands and try to fly it.’

Birdman 2020 will be held on Sunday 8 March at Birrarung Marr, featuring a fun and colourful entertainment program on the banks of the Yarra. Check out the full program when it is released in early February on Moomba’s website.

Moomba is Australia’s largest free community festival, proudly owned and delivered by the City of Melbourne.