Is it a bird, is it a plane, is it a meat-eor? Well, if you look over the skies of Wigan tomorrow morning you might just see a meat and potato pie sailing overhead.
For intrepid organisers of the World Pie-Eating Championships are planning to give it the most spectacular launch yet by getting the first ever pastry into space!
We always think big at the championships and are going for an astronomical first this time by trying to get the first meat and potato pie launched into spaceTony Callaghan
Boffins from over the Pennines have been drafted in for the ambitious project to propel a specially crafted meat and potato snack up to an altitude of 100,000ft or more.
They claim they want to test whether the rarified atmosphere - far higher than most planes travel - has an effect on the molecular structure of the meat and crust and perhaps make them easier to swallow!
Mission Control will be Fifteens at the Fox in Roby Mill, one of pie champs supremo Tony Callaghan’s watering holes.
But the weather could well be the deciding factor. Mr Callaghan and his team are in regular contact with the Civil Aviation Authority which has to approve take-off and this will very much depend on the prevailing winds. At present the mission is set fair to launch at 10.30am GNT.
The pie will be attached to a helium-filled weather balloon which will also carry with it a camera to record the flight and the obligatory radar reflector to ensure that other craft pick it up on their travels.
Based on current weather forecasts, the payload is expected to travel pretty much virtually upwards and then drift slowly east about seven miles above the earth and come down somewhere in West Yorkshire.
Should winds freshen as the afternoon progresses it could be wafted further afield and perhaps land in the North Sea or even mainland Europe.
Once the balloon reaches around 100,000ft it should burst, bringing the pie tumbling down to earth at speeds of up to 100mph although the tattered balloon should act as something of a parachute.
Mr Callaghan is hoping that the cargo doesn’t venture too far, otherwise it will prove difficult to recover the camera and footage for later perusal. The organisers have not got the technology for it to beam back a live broadcast so finding the equipment using an onboard tracking device is vital.
It is all an exciting curtain-raiser to the now traditional World Pie-Eating Championships themselves which take place at “pie noon” on Tuesday December 20 at Harry’s Bar in Wallgate.
An event which has attracted media attention from around the globe, it recently featured on an episode of Judge Rinder when former winner Barry Rigby said he was left out of pocket by his victory being ruled null and void because the wrong-sized pies had been delivered to the venue!
The reigning champion is Martin Appleton-Clare.
Meanwhile there is the serious business of a space mission to complete.
Mr Callaghan said: “We always think big at the championships and are going for an astronomical first this time by trying to get the first meat and potato pie launched into space.
“We have a couple of space geeks over from Yorkshire to help with the mission and, weather permitting, we should have lift-off tomorrow morning.
“We are hoping for some spectacular pictures when we recover the film - the pie should be able to see the curvature of the earth. And we also want to see if the altitude affects its molecular structure and so make it easier to swallow during the competition.”
The pie has been designed by former Wigan Athletic chairman Bill Kenyon who has worked with a top chef to come up with a secret pastry recipe which he claims avoids indigestion.
Few stories in the Wigan Evening Post’s history have been the inspiration for so many excruciating puns in our office as this one. Here are the best (or worst) 10 pastry-related sci-fi film titles:
The Em-pie-r Strikes Back (starring Luke Piewalker and C3Pie0)
mEaT - and Extra Vegetables
Star Trek: The Pie-nal Frontier (featuring the Starship Enterpies)
Close Encounters Of The Third Pie-nd