Why do many birds fly in a V formation? The wonderful video curators at The Kid Should See This came across this excellent 2014 clip above from the science journal Nature explaining research into the aerodynamic advantages of the formation. From Nature:
...UK's Royal Veterinary College put data loggers on ibises to record their position, speed and wing flaps when they migrated. The ibises position themselves within the V so that they benefit from the flow of air created by the bird in front. They carefully time their wing flaps with their flock mates', to get an extra lift when flying high.
More at Nature: "Precision formation flight astounds scientists"
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For a decade, NASA scientists have worked on an air-to-air photographic technology that will be used to collect data for the agency's next-generation supersonic airplane project. They've just released these absolutely astonishing "first air-to-air images of supersonic shockwave interaction in flight."
“We never dreamt that it would be this clear, this beautiful," says NASA scientist J.T. Heineck.
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The images feature a pair of T-38s from the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, flying in formation at supersonic speeds. The T-38s are flying approximately 30 feet away from each other, with the trailing aircraft flying about 10 feet lower than the leading T-38. With exceptional clarity, the flow of the shock waves from both aircraft is seen, and for the first time, the interaction of the shocks can be seen in flight.
“We’re looking at a supersonic flow, which is why we’re getting these shockwaves,” said Neal Smith, a research engineer with AerospaceComputing Inc. at NASA Ames’ fluid mechanics laboratory.
“What’s interesting is, if you look at the rear T-38, you see these shocks kind of interact in a curve,” he said. “This is because the trailing T-38 is flying in the wake of the leading aircraft, so the shocks are going to be shaped differently. This data is really going to help us advance our understanding of how these shocks interact...”
While NASA has previously used the schlieren photography technique to study shockwaves, the AirBOS 4 flights featured an upgraded version of the previous airborne schlieren systems, allowing researchers to capture three times the amount of data in the same amount of time.
Meeting Queen Elizabeth II was a little too real for 9-year-old Nathan Grant. As she approached him and his parents during her visit to The Thomas Coram Foundation for Children last Wednesday, he bowed out of the whole thing by dropping down to the floor and crawling towards the nearest exit. Once he was through the door, he turned around to say, "Bye!" Read the rest
The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is investigating multiple reports of UFOs over the coast of Ireland on Friday. From the BBC:
(A British Airways) pilot, flying from the Canadian city of Montreal to Heathrow, said there was a "very bright light" and the object had come up along the left side of the aircraft before it "rapidly veered to the north..."
(Another Virgin pilot said) there were "multiple objects following the same sort of trajectory" and that they were very bright.
The pilot said he saw "two bright lights" over to the right which climbed away at speed.
One pilot said the speed was "astronomical, it was like Mach 2" - which is twice the speed of sound.
According to the IAA, the matter will be "investigated under the normal confidential occurrence investigation process." Meanwhile, the BBC quotes an astronomer who suggests what the pilots saw could have been a meteoroid aka "shooting star."
image: not the actual UFO over Ireland
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Last month, the Canadian Armed Forces announced its strict but reasonable policy surrounding the use of cannabis by service personnel. With Canada's decriminalization of cannabis nearly upon us, a lot of companies and organizations that deal with dangerous tasks or complicated hardware are following suit. Earlier this week, one of Canada's most popular air carriers, WestJet released its policy for when their employees will be allowed to use cannabis.
The short version of the rules: If you're a WestJet employee doing anything other than riding a phone for the company's customer service line or working at an airport check-in counter, chances are that you won't be allowed near the stuff.
From the CBC:
Spokesperson Morgan Bell said employees were notified of the changes on Tuesday morning.
She said cannabis is being treated differently than alcohol, which is banned for certain staff members within 12 hours of coming on duty.
Bell said WestJet's list of affected positions would be similar to Air Canada's, which includes flight and cabin crew members, flight dispatchers, aircraft maintenance engineers and station attendants.
The new WestJet policy also includes a prohibition on possession or distribution of cannabis on company property while on duty or attending a company social function.
Air Canada, Canada's flag carrier, has pretty much the same policy on dope, which makes me happy. In almost all instances, 12 hours is long enough for the blood alcohol level of most drinkers to dip back down to safe levels. Despite all the criminal bullshit that we've laden cannabis down with over the years, we still know comparatively little about what it does to a user's reflexes or how long it may continue to have an effect on judgement. Read the rest
The B2 Spirit Stealth Bomber looks like one of Batman's rides. In service since the mid-1990s, the B2's distinctive flying wing shape, even after decades in service, still looks like the future – and an expensive future, at that. Each B2 costs $2.1 billion. As such, only 21 of the stealthy aircraft were ever made.
Congress, even in the heyday of "what about potential war with Russia," refused to pay for any more. It's an aircraft with a mystique that comes both from its exotic design and how little information we have on the pilots who fly it, and their experience of flying one of them.
Recently, journalist William Langewiesche was given the opportunity to become familiar with the bomber and those that pilot it. More intriguingly, given that the bomber scarcely has space in its cockpit to accommodate a pilot and co-pilot, Langewiesche, by the sound of things, was allowed to join a B2 flight crew on a mission that would take them all the way from the United States to a bombing run on an ISIS camp in Libya.
From The Atlantic:
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Night came quickly after a short day. Once they passed into the Mediterranean, the pilots used their radar to find three tankers that had come from Germany to meet them for their second refueling, and to map some thunderstorms that were active in the area at the time. Because of its composite structure, the B-2 is particularly vulnerable to static discharges and lightning strikes, and is required to stay 40 miles away from thunderstorms—twice as far as other airplanes.
Joining the Mars 2020 rover mission to the Red Planet will be a small helicopter. The Mars Helicopter, with a softball-size fuselage, the autonomous chopper will be solar powered and integrate a small heater so it doesn't seize up at night. From NASA
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Once the rover is on the planet’s surface, a suitable location will be found to deploy the helicopter down from the vehicle and place it onto the ground. The rover then will be driven away from the helicopter to a safe distance from which it will relay commands. After its batteries are charged and a myriad of tests are performed, controllers on Earth will command the Mars Helicopter to take its first autonomous flight into history.
“We don’t have a pilot and Earth will be several light minutes away, so there is no way to joystick this mission in real time,” said (Mimi Aung, Mars Helicopter project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.) “Instead, we have an autonomous capability that will be able to receive and interpret commands from the (rover on the) ground, and then fly the mission on its own.”
“The ability to see clearly what lies beyond the next hill is crucial for future explorers,” said Zurbuchen. “We already have great views of Mars from the surface as well as from orbit. With the added dimension of a bird’s-eye view from a ‘marscopter,’ we can only imagine what future missions will achieve.”
Mars 2020 will launch on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and is expected to reach Mars in February 2021.
Between this and Starman's Tesla in space, it's a weird week. Read the rest
Holy moly, this kerosene-fueled full GFK* body RC speeder has a turbine engine that generates 40.50lbs of thrust at 125,000 rpm, letting it reach speeds over 450 miles per hour.
Perhaps even more impressive is that the pilot is able to maintain control at those speeds. Mindboggling!
* Fun fact: GFK stands for Glasfaserverstärkter Kunststoff, the German name for this type of glass-fiber reinforced component. I had to look it up!
Here's a POV shot of this type of RC jet
• FASTEST RC TURBINE MODEL JET IN ACTION 727KMH 451MPH FLIGHT TRAINING WORLD RECORD TRAINING PART 2 (YouTube / RC MEDIA WORLD) Read the rest
Usually, drones and hawks don't get along so well, but this hovering hawk didn't mind being filmed. Read the rest
Advances in Atmospheric Sciences reports that flying is going to get more and more turbulent, even at cruising altitudes, because of climate change: Read the rest
John Collins holds the Guinness World Record for designing the farthest flying paper airplane. The plane, folded from a single piece of A4 paper, flew 69.14 meters in 2012. Harvard University made this video of Collins folding his masterpiece during a recent visit with Harvard's design engineering graduate students. More designs at The Paper Airplane Guy.
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Biomimickry continues to improve and refine specialized drones and flying robots. Mindy Weisberger at LiveScience dives into an issue of The Royal Society's journal Interface Focus on coevolving advances in animal flight and aerial robotics. Read the rest
This year has seen some interesting movement in the world of hoverbikes, hovering platforms that can support a standing human, and drone prototypes large enough to carry people. EUKA has an overview of 8 noteworthy examples. Read the rest
The Airlander 10 hybrid airplane-airship, the world's longest aircraft that resembles a massive ass, crashed on landing at Cardington Airfield in Bedfordshire, England. Video below. Fortunately, the crew was uninjured. It was the aircraft's second test flight.
"The flight went really well and the only issue was when it landed," said a spokesperson for Hybrid Air Vehicles, the company that developed the aircraft over the last decade, originally supported by a US Army contract.
Sir Mix-A-Lot had this to say about the accident: "I like big butts but this one can't fly..."
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Frequently seen in the pages of 1950s-era Popular Mechanics magazines, the Bensen B-8 was a small gyrocopter that was in production until 1987. Download the plans and build your own two-person gyrocpter fleet to compete with Uber and Lyft!
(via Weird Universe)
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The Airlander 10 hybrid airplane-airship, the world's longest aircraft at 302 feet long, has emerged from its hangar at Cardington Airfield, Bedfordshire, England. Read the rest