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August 30, 2012

Purdue band members to fly world's largest drum into Lake Michigan

flugtag drum

A team of Purdue band members is building a full-size replica of the World's Largest Drum that will fly into Lake Michigan on Sept. 8 as part of Red Bull Flugtag 2012. The craft was designed by aeronautical engineering student Chris Yamamoto. (Photo provided by Chris Yamamoto)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Members of Purdue University's "All-American" Marching Band are building a new version of the World's Largest Drum that will fly over, and into, Lake Michigan.

The "Droppin the Bass" glider will be launched off a four-story lakefront platform in Chicago on Sept. 8 when it competes in a Red Bull Flugtag.

The goal is to fly as far over the lake as possible, while also entertaining the crowd.

Team captain Chris Yamamoto, a senior in aeronautical engineering from Cortland, New York, says the big drum design was a natural theme because of how iconic it is throughout the Big Ten conference and beyond.

"Purdue students have a long history of pushing the frontiers of flight," Yamamoto said. "None is more well known than Purdue band alumnus Neil Armstrong. Of course, he flew farther than we will."

Yamamoto also will pilot the craft. As a freshman he served as chief engineer for a smaller team that launched a "Speed Train" version of the Boilermaker Special into a second-place finish at the 2010 Flugtag in Miami, just three feet behind a top team of NASA engineers from nearby Cape Canaveral.

"I hope to use that experience and my now-increased aerospace engineering education to propel us to victory," Yamamoto said. "Of course, my thrust is completely dependent on the muscles of bandmates. Unfortunately, all of the football players are busy that day pushing people around at Notre Dame."

Successful Flugtag teams typically provide the crowd with a high-energy song and dance routine before launching their craft into the drink. Yamamoto says his team’s inherent musicality will help.

"We entertained an entire nation at the head of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade," Yamamoto said. "We can handle this crowd."

Team Droppin the Base includes Heather Robinson of Gary, Ind.; Zach Haley of New Washington, Ind., Alex McHolick of Houston; and Ben Kuttecsh of Brentwood, Tenn.

The team will be feverishly building its big, winged drum every day through Sept. 5. Volunteer opportunities still exist. The finished craft will be displayed outside the Neon Cactus, the team’s sponsor, at 360 Brown Street in West Lafayette, IN, at approximately 7 p.m. on Thursday (Sept. 6). The team departs West Lafayette at approximately 4 p.m. Friday (Sept. 7).

Follow "Team Droppin the Bass" on Facebook or Twitter at http://twitter.com/teamdroppinbass.

Writer: Jim Schenke, 765-237-7296, jschenke@purdue.edu

Source: Chris Yamamoto, cyamamot@purdue.edu

Note to Journalists: For broadcast-quality video and photos, contact Jim Schenke, Purdue News Service, 765-237-7296 or jschenke@purdue.edu.