Fearsome Finnister is competing again

October 11, 2003|By Julia Furlong | Julia Furlong,SUN STAFF

Fresh from a dip in New York's Hudson River last weekend, Fells Point-born "flying machine" Finnister will hit the water again tomorrow, says its designer and pilot, Fells Point art-gallery owner Charles Lawrance.

The fierce-looking winged creature of bamboo and foam survived its very brief flight off a launching ramp during the Red Bull Flugtag, a tongue-in-cheek competition for homemade would-be flying machines in New York harbor, Lawrance said.

"Finnister's not doing all right, but it's still in one piece," he said.

The fish-bird hybrid is all right enough to "be more than just an innocent bystander" at a dinghy race at 1 p.m. tomorrow in Fells Point - part of the five-day Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race.

The Finnister team - captain Lawrance, Derek Arnold, Jeff Thomas, Grant Goode and Stuart Wiess - was among 37 entries in the Flugtag, which drew some 40,000 spectators to Hudson River Park. The team was almost kept from the contest by Tropical Storm Isabel, which flooded the Fells Point shed where the unfinished Finnister was stored.

The winning entry, Pedal Power (from Pennsylvania), flew just 39 feet, far short of the event record of 195 feet. On its flight attempt, Finnister made pretty much a direct descent into the water, Lawrance said. But it fulfilled its creator's main goal: stylishly avoiding the fate of many other craft by remaining intact after the plunge.

After its dip in the Baltimore harbor tomorrow, Finnister will assume a place of honor in the parking lot of Lawrance's Finart Studios gallery during special occasions.

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