The bird’s wing is truly a fascinating creation. With little effort, these animals of flight hop into the air and take off skimming, fluttering, or soaring from place to place. Typically compromised on the ground, they find safety and freedom where no other creature can touch them.
I first flew in an airplane in my mid-thirties. By then, I was old enough to appreciate the miraculous accomplishments of early aeronautical pioneers and the engineers who followed in their path. I used to love a window seat so I could see the moment the plane left the ground. I watched in awe as the world below grew smaller and smaller. Then I would say a short prayer that everything worked just as it was designed.
Wanting Something Bad Enough
Growing up near Dayton Ohio, home of the Wright Brothers, one learns early in life about their contributions to the flying world. In the days when field trips were still a thing, every school in the surrounding area visited the National Museum of the United States Air Force. As I wrote this blog, I decided on another short visit to get a picture of the Wright Brother’s 1903 flyer. Why not? The museum is free and well worth whatever amount of time a person can sacrifice.
Speaking of the Air Force Museum…
Back in the spring of 1990, I was commuting to Wright State University while I finished up my senior year of college. I happened to be driving into Dayton one sunny day when a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird flew overhead. One doesn't quickly forget such an incredible sight.
This was that plane’s last flight before its retirement. (Some of the SR-71 came out of retirement for a few years, but this one stayed put in the museum). Here’s a picture from the museum’s website.
Back to the Wright Brother’s
Orville and Wilbur Wright are credited with the first successful flight of a powered, heavier-than-air flying machine. The 1903 Wright Flyer picture above, completed it’s first flight at Kitty Hawk, NC, December 17, 1903 by traveling 120 feet (36 meters) for about 12 seconds. But their best flight of the day lasted 59 seconds and carried the plane 852 feet (255.6 meters). You can find detailed images and description here.
What many people don’t know, is that Wilbur and Orville Wright studied birds and books on bird flight. They developed their wing warping theory in the summer of 1899 after observing buzzards twisting the tips of their wings as they soared into the wind.
As noted on Wrightstories.com: “They often rode their bicycles to a popular picnic area south of Dayton called the ‘Pinnacles’ to observe the many birds that flew there. Early on, they decided that practical flight was possible by man using soaring large birds as their model.
“The Pinnacles consisted of a gorge with a river flowing through it and unique large boulders created during the ice age on its slopes. The updraft created by the terrain attracted soaring birds. The Wright brothers regularly observed birds there from 1897 to 1899.”
Inspired by the birds – biomimcry
The Wright brothers built moveable flaps into their gliders that could be adjusted by the pilot during flight.Inspiration from creation by Stuart Burgess adn Dominic Stratham (Creation Book Publishers, 2018).
On Smithsonian Education, in an article called “Wing Warping,” we read that Wilbur Wright wrote a letter to friend, encourager, and aviation experimenter Octave Chanute, noting that when one wing tip of a bird twists upward and the other twists downward, the buzzard “becomes an animated windmill and instantly begins to turn.”
A slightly different concept studied by Mechanical engineering professor Shaker Meguid is what he calls wing morphing. He suggests that by altering the shape and layout of the of airplane wings, one can optimize the aircraft’s aerodynamics. The goal is to increase efficiency, reduce noise during take-off, and decrease pollution.
In developing his concept, according to airplanes.com, Meguid first studied eagles: “When you observe eagles in flights, you would notice that when they are high in the sky, they soar with their wings fully extended. They are gliding, attempting to increase lift and reduce drag…However, [when] they fold their wings and go on a fast attack, they dive to catch prey.” The professor studied a variety of birds and eventually decided to imitate the common swift. If you’d like to read more on professor Shaker Meguid and wing morphing, here is a more detailed article. In this article at Royal Society Publishing, we see a similar concept applied to drones.
The Creator’s Trademark
The incredible design of a bird’s wing serves a valuable purpose to mankind. By understanding and mimicking the way in which it works, our lives are truly enhanced.
“Ask the animals and they will teach you.” Job 12:7.
For other articles like this that show the amazing capabilities of nature, search fascinating creations on the blog. Here’s a great post about the awesomeness of sharks. But if birds fascinate you, then you may really enjoy this article on the Owl, er…Owlman, but true facts about the silent flight of owls are included along with some awesome original owl designs by Mel Cabre.
We hope you enjoyed this installment of The Creator’s Trademark. Have a wonderful rest of your day.
“If I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes.” –Charles Lindbergh.