Aerodynamics of bird flight
Institute of Thermomechanics v.v.i., Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, 18200 Prague 8, The Czech Republic
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Published online: 28 March 2016
Unlike airplanes birds must have either flapping or oscillating wings (the hummingbird). Only such wings can produce both lift and thrust – two sine qua non attributes of flying.The bird wings have several possibilities how to obtain the same functions as airplane wings. All are realized by the system of flight feathers. Birds have also the capabilities of adjusting the shape of the wing according to what the immediate flight situation demands, as well as of responding almost immediately to conditions the flow environment dictates, such as wind gusts, object avoidance, target tracking, etc. In bird aerodynamics also the tail plays an important role. To fly, wings impart downward momentum to the surrounding air and obtain lift by reaction. How this is achieved under various flight situations (cruise flight, hovering, landing, etc.), and what the role is of the wing-generated vortices in producing lift and thrust is discussed.The issue of studying bird flight experimentally from in vivo or in vitro experiments is also briefly discussed.
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