The familiar sight of a flock of birds flying in a perfect V formation across the sky – how do they do that?
Research led by the Royal Veterinary College at University of London has proved for the first time that birds precisely time when they flap their wings and place themselves in aerodynamic optimal positions when flying in formation. Custom-built GPS and accelerometer loggers have uncovered groundbreaking new insights into the flying-V formation.
It was previously not thought possible for birds to carry out such aerodynamic feats because of the complex flight dynamics and sensory feedback required, but the study found they position themselves to maximise the capture of upwash, or ‘good air’, throughout the entire flap cycle, while avoiding areas of downwash or ‘bad air’.
E&T News covered this story in depth today – read more about the flying V research and the airborne antics of this fine-looking fellow.