'Free Flight' Festival Celebrates Greek Myth Hero 'Icarus'

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From September 17th through September 21st, thousands of people gathered at Saint-Hilaire du Touvet in France, to watch an assortment of creatively made aircraft soar (or crash) in the skies to celebrate the Icarus Cup - The world's oldest 'free flight' festival.

The event, started to re-live the flight of Greek legend Icarus, who according to ancient lore tried to escape prison with 'wings' made from feathers stuck to his body with wax, was started by three paragliding enthusiasts in 1974.

Now every summer, 8,000 flying enthusiasts try to re-live his dream of flying by launching off the plateau Des Petites Roches flying down to Lumbin, 600 meters below. The four-day affair now includes many different ariel flights including para-gliding, hot-air ballooning, kite flying and even a man flying in a jet-propelled suit. To keep the spectators on the ground entertained, the event also features trade shows and an ariel film festival.

However, the highlight of the four-day event is the Masquerade Contest where prizes are awarded for the most 'innovative and poetic' flying vehicles - Over the years, these have included dragons, giant footballs, cars and even birthday cakes - Some glide gracefully to their destination, while others simply drop down - either way they provide a source of amusement to the enthusiastic crowd below.

sources:destinationflen.eurostar.com, coupe-icare.org,guardian.co.uk

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