Explainer

Why Can’t We Fly Like Birds?

Also:  Yves Rossy is working on something groundbreaking.  Eager to learn more about it.

3 thoughts on “Explainer

  1. Hi Karl. This person has obviously never heard of hang gliders and paragliders. I typically fly for an hour or more with no flapping nor engine / propeller. I am a soaring pilot and use the same forms of rising air that soaring birds use. What this person gets wrong is that flapping in larger birds is not to “push the air down” in order to lift the bird, but instead it is to provide “thrust” to propel the bird *forward*. It is the flow of air over and under the wing that generates the lift that keeps the wing flying and rising. With no source of “thrust” other than gravity in my glider, I simply have to glide into and stay in rising air in order to sustain my flight. When the air flow over the wing stops, called a stall, the wing stops generating lift and it falls. The forward thrust from flapping is what keeps that relative air flowing over the wing.

  2. OK, he’s heard of hang gliders, but is still quite ignorant about “soaring”. For instance, he states that the Albatross soars over the ocean by using “thermals”. Wrong. While here are weak thermals over water, that is not the main source of the lift they use. See “Dynamic Soaring”. If he had used Raptors and other inland soaring birds he would have been closer.

    Also, Jet pack have the same limitations, the inability to carry enough fuel or other energy source to fly on thrust alone for long enough to be practical.

    1. Tom! Thank you for staying in touch. This dream of ours has been a long time in the incubation phase! You have been flying all over the place for a very long time using hang gliders, and since we met online, you’ve learned how to use a paraglider. It has been a joy to exchange ideas with you and collaborate over the years. Though I’m still not flying, I’ve continued to nurture the dream while raising a couple of kids with my wife and taking on the role of science department chair at my school in Los Angeles. It has been fun to watch the jet pack obsessed folks hone their craft while imagining what it would be like to have a paraglider style set of wings that could generate some lift while also having a dynamic framework modeled on bird bones. I agree that flapping is not the way to go. Though I have much to do still, the pictures posted a couple of months ago represent baby steps along the progression. The idea is for some ‘practice’ wings that are not big enough to get into too much trouble while still generating plenty of data. The Santa Ana winds have been blowing hard through my valley this last week and no doubt you’ve seen my local mountains burning on TV. I sometimes step outside and imagine what the 25mph air could do moving over my outstretched, yet responsive wings. I’ll share more as progress continues. Stay well!

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