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Flawless Flying Machines: Birds

Man has always dreamed of being able to fly, and down the years many people have sought ways of doing so. Yet it was not until the 20th century that they finally succeeded. Flying machines with advanced technology emerged at the end of long years of research and experiment. However, the techniques employed by man are really very primitive compared to the flight machines in nature.

Nature’s flight machines are birds – the jewels of the sky. They can fly at great heights, or skim over the ground, at great speeds or very slowly, but the techniques they employ are always magnificent.

The most tiring part of flight for most birds is the moment of take-off. Once that has been achieved, a bird can easily glide in the air. So, what is it that enables a bird to stay up in the air once take-off has been achieved? The answer lies in the flawless engineering design in the wing.

The back of the wing curls slightly downwards. Air passing under the wing strikes that part and exerts a force on it. That lifts the bird upwards. Air passing over the wing, on the other hand, is deflected upwards by the front of the wing, and air pressure on top of the wing is reduced. That also pulls the bird upwards. If there is sufficient current, the attractive force above the wing and the lifting power from underneath are sufficient to keep the bird in the air. It is this factor that allows the albatross to stay aloft for hours without once flapping its wings, just making use of the rising currents of air.

Different bird wings have always been used in aeroplane design. Some wings are short and sturdy, for frequent manouevering. Others are long and wide in order to be able to fly at high altitudes. Still others are long and narrow for gliding in the air. Some birds stay in the air for months, eating, drinking and sleeping there.

All flights have to end with landing. A safe descent is therefore just as important as take-off. Birds are expert at this, and use their wings as brakes. This puffin can remain suspended in the air thanks to the air currents around it, and uses that same ability to land again. A moment”s lack of concentration could have terrible consequences. Swans, some of the largest birds on earth, land on water, just like a sea-plane, and use their feet as brakes. A vulture uses the most accurately controlled flight and spot-on geometric calculation to make a safe landing in its nest on the edge of a cliff. It first aims at a point below its nest and makes a rapid descent. It then suddenly turns upwards, using the air as a brake, and its speed drops to zero just as it nears the nest.

Man always strives for the best results possible when producing aeroplanes. The most important thing is to keep air resistance to a minimum and thus allow the plane to remain in the air with no difficulty. The technology employed in current-day planes is the result of a hundred years of experience, experiment and research. Plane and wing shapes are designed with the help of computers, bearing a number of factors in mind. Despite this, however, no plane”s flight control and technology bear any comparison with those of birds. For instance, no man-made plane can perform the same kind of aerobatics that birds do. There is no possible doubt that all the flawless design in birds” bodies is the work of a superior Designer.

Furthermore, jet squadrons fly in a V formation, and there is a very important reason why they do so. Every plane in the series creates a diagonal slipstream. That means the plane flying behind it meets less air resistance and thus has to expend less energy. That means a 20 percent energy saving. Migratory birds are surprisingly possessed of that same information. They, like jets, also fly in a V formation. Every bird takes advantage of the slipstream set up by the one in front of it. It is tiring to be the one at the head of the formation, and birds take turns in occupying the position. There is a great secret here: The fact that the V formation allows less energy to be consumed in flight was only discovered by aerodynamic engineers.

The fact is that no one who examines living things without prejudice could possibly be made uneasy by examples of perfect design. All of them contain an important message that needs to be understood by people of intelligence: the existence of a Designer.

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