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Harry Potter and buzzy bee make biggest splash

By CARLY UDY

Rolling his giant, glistening buzzy bee to the end of Salisbury Wharf at Pilot Bay, Grant Stewart was basing his chances on winning yesterday's More FM Birdman competition on "a hope and a prayer".
Looking very Kiwi in his black singlet and stubbies shorts, Mr Stewart of Otumoetai was one of 10 people who hurled themselves off the wharf for fun, fame, glory, and of course prizes.
Making a go of it for the sixth year in a row, Mr Stewart - who broke the back of his beloved bee when he bombed into the water - said he'd spent two to three weeks working on his "Kiwi icon" creation, helped by daughters Yasmin, 15, and Tayla, 12.
Made of wire netting, papier mache and "a bit of" polystyrene, the bee was what More FM presenter Carly Glenn referred to as "one of the best entries More FM has ever seen."
"And it's been going for 15 years, so that's saying something," she added.
The strong crowd of several thousand - packed along the beach - voiced their pleasure at seeing Mr Stewart - who last year entered as Miss Frizzie with her Magic School Bus - "bounce then roll off" into the bobbing water.
"It went really well, I was really pleased," he grinned afterwards.
Also attracting laughter and encouragement from the crowd was first-timer to the competition, Matthew Carden of Pyes Pa.
Convinced by his kids, he went with "the magic of the moment" and dressed up as Harry Potter, in "standard Hogwarts gear."
"Although I have also been sponsored by my kids with butterfly wings," he grinned.
The overall winner of this year's competition was marine electrician Eric Basill of Omokoroa.
He cleverly made himself a miniature plane, inspired by the Soviet aircraft SU27 - "one of the most powerful aircraft in the world".
His contraption - which took him all of five minutes to think up, but two weeks to make - made a loud explosion noise just before it hit the water, setting the audience into a resounding applause.
"The ignition is a piezo out of a $2 cigarette lighter that ignites about three litres of hydrogen and oxygen that turns into water.
"It gives it the big bang," Mr Basill explained smiling.
Other flying machines on display at the annual More FM Birdman Competition included three teenagers from Mount New World.
They flipped into the water with a trolley.
Laurie and Nick Johnson from Te Puke, impressively "flew" through the air with a simple blue tarpaulin.

When asked by Ms Glenn what their technique would be, the boys said "run and jump".Overall winners: Longest flight: Laurie and Nick Johnson ($500). Most Creative: Eric Basill ($1000). Peoples Choice: Grant Stewart ($500).

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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