It was found out how birds fly in the wind. This will help develop new aircraft.

“We know birds are surprisingly good at handling conditions that challenge the created air

vehicles of similar size, butuntil now we did not understand the mechanisms underlying this process, ”said Dr. Shane Windsor from the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Bristol.

New research shows bird wingsact as a suspension system to cope with changing wind conditions. The scientists used an innovative combination of high-speed 3D surface reconstruction based on video, computed tomography (CT) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD). So they wanted to understand exactly how the morphing of their wings, that is, their changing shape and position, helps birds to "throw off" gusts of wind.

In an experiment conducted at the Laboratorystructure and movement of the Royal Veterinary College, the team filmed Lily's vulture gliding through a series of fan-generated vertical gusts of wind. Lily is a falconry trained bird, a veteran of many nature documentaries, so "she was not at all embarrassed by the light and cameras," scientists from Bristol assure.

Cheney et al 2020 Supplemental Movie S1 from Newswise on Vimeo.

Lily the barn owl is filmed flying through a series of gusts of wind. Credit: Cheney et al., 2020.

“We started with very gentle gusts of wind onin case Lily has any difficulties. But it was soon discovered that even at the highest gust speeds, Lily was unperturbed. She calmly flew straight ahead to receive the food award held by her trainer Lloyd Buck, "commented Professor Richard Bomfrey of the Royal Veterinary College on the experiment.

“Lily flew through the bumpy gusts of wind andconsistently kept her head and torso on a surprisingly stable trajectory, as if she were flying with a suspension system. When we analyzed the data, we were surprised that the “suspension system effect” did not just happen. Its aerodynamics were also influenced by the mass of Lily's wings. In comparison, each of our upper limbs makes up about 5% of our body weight; for a bird it is about twice as large. They use this mass to effectively absorb gusts of wind, ”explained study author Dr. Jorn Cheney of the Royal Veterinary College.

“Perhaps the most exciting isthe discovery that the very part of the "effect" of the suspension, which is responsible for speed, is "built" into the wing mechanics. This is why the birds don't need to actively do anything for the system to work. The mechanics are very elegant, ”concludes Dr. Jonathan Stevenson of the University of Bristol.

The next step in the research will be the development of biologic suspension systems for small aircraft.

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