Even during the busiest times of my life I have endeavored to maintain some
form of model building activity. This site has been created to help me chronicle
my journey through a lifelong involvement in model aviation, which
all began in Mayo, MD
All trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other rights of ownership to images
and text used on the Airplanes and Rockets website are hereby acknowledged.
The Nearly Effortless Flight of the Albatross
The July 2013 edition of IEEE's Spectrum*
magazine had a really good article on a high tech study that is being done on the manner
in which an albatross manages to fly great distances and for long periods of time while
rarely needing to flap its wings. As shown in the thumbnail (and in the article), an
albatross performs a series of rapid climbs into very strong wind, turns, and dives leeward
nearly to the water's surface, then repeats the process over and over as it makes its
way to its destination. The process is called dynamic soaring. R/C soaring pilots have
been doing the same sort of thing for a few years now. Obviously the albatross figured
out how to fly like that long before mankind was able to mimic it, but the researchers
in the article seem to not have knowledge of the R/C soaring technique. They are capturing
albatrosses in their nests and attaching GPS-based sensors with data recorders to the
birds' back feathers and retrieving the units when the birds return to their nests. The
ultimate purpose of the study is to gather information that can be applied to the design
of UAVs that can fly for extended periods and over great distances without the need for
recharging or refueling.
In searching for a little extra information, I ran across quite a bit of study on
the flight of the albatross for application to both model and full-size aircraft platforms.
A couple good videos are posted below along with hyperlinks to articles.