Incredible slo-mo video of raptors flying through bubble clouds... for science

How does an owl's tail help it fly? To better see the role of the tail in raptor aerodynamics, researchers at the UK's Royal Veterinary College recorded birds of prey flying through clouds of tiny helium bubbles. According to the science journal Nature, analyzing the swirling motion of the bubbles enabled the scientists to discover "a new way in which birds use their tail to provide lift and so reduce drag while gliding... Their findings could provide a new way to improve the efficiency of small gliding aircraft."

More: "High aerodynamic lift from the tail reduces drag in gliding raptors" (Journal of Experimental Biology)

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Building an R/C version of a Soviet-era ground-effect plane

Mad maker, Peter Sripol, apparently got a zillion requests from his viewers to build an R/C model of an Ekranoplan, aka the Caspian sea monster, a Soviet-era ground-effects vehicle (GEV), a plane designed to skim over water. Read the rest

Robot bird with real pigeon feathers to improve agility

PigeonBot is a robotic bird outfitted with real pigeon feathers that move to reshape its wings like an actual bird. Developed by researchers in Stanford's LentinkLab, the remote-controlled PigeonBot demonstrates how morphing wings improves flying agility. (Video below.) Their resulting technical paper is the cover story in the current issue of the journal Science Robotics. From Science News:

Birds can modify the shape of their wings by fanning out their feathers or shuffling them closer together. Those adjustments allow birds to cut through the sky more nimbly than rigid drones....

Researchers bent and extended the wings of dead pigeons to investigate how the birds control their wing shape. Those experiments revealed that the angles of two wing joints, the wrist and the finger, most affect the alignment of a wing’s flight feathers. The orientations of those long, stiff feathers, which support the bird in flight, help determine the wing’s shape. Based on those findings, the team built a robot with real pigeon feathers, whose faux wrists and fingers can morph its wing shape as seen in the pigeon cadavers.

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Incredible story of a successful in-flight surgery using fork, knife, coat hanger, and cognac

In June 1995, physicians Angus Wallace and Tom Wong were waiting for their flight to depart Hong Kong to London when they were asked to examine a woman complaining of arm pain caused by a "fall." After takeoff, the doctors returned to the woman to put a splint on her arm but they quickly realized that her injuries were much more serious than she had first reported. Not only did the woman have arm and rib fractures, her lung was punctured and air leaking between her lung and chest wall had caused a pneumothorax. The condition is life threatening if not treated and Wallace believed the change in air pressure upon landing would kill her. So Wallace and Wong had to improvise. From Wikipedia:

The medical kit had lidocaine – a local anaesthetic – but the catheter in the kit was designed only for urinary catheterisation and was too soft for use as a chest tube. The doctors fashioned a trocar from a metal clothes hanger to stiffen the catheter, and a check valve from a bottle of water with holes poked in the cap. They sterilised their equipment in Courvoisier cognac, and began surgery by making an incision in the patient's chest, but with no surgical clamps available, Wong had to hold the incision open with a knife and fork while Wallace inserted the catheter. The whole surgery lasted about ten minutes; the doctors successfully released the trapped air from the patient's chest, and she passed the rest of the flight uneventfully, eating and watching in-flight movies.

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Immerse yourself in these stunning 4K airplane cockpit videos

Go full screen for this 4K video of an Airbus A380 landing at night at the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. The YouTube channel, High Pressure Aviation Films, offers dozens of POV flight videos, from landings in Tahiti and Tokyo to the clip below of the Northern Lights seen from inside a Boeing 777 on its way from Los Angeles to Paris.

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Bird flight, bug gaits, and animal walks: fascinating videos for animators

Artist and animator Stephen Cunnane directed these wonderful videos to help artists animate bugs, birds, and other animals.

.embed-vimeo {text-align: center; position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%;} .embed-vimeo iframe {position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%;} Read the rest

Nail-biting video of frightened fellow paragliding, now with subtitled terror

This man's fear and exhilaration is palpable without understanding what he's saying. The subtitles amplify his terror. Read the rest

My Life on the Road: Accidental Rocket Sighting

In April, my wife and I returned from a few months in Mexico, to Texas. We were planning on hanging around until the end of the month before driving back up to Canada. On a particularly hot day, we thought it'd be nice to take our pooch to the beach so that she could cool off. Landlocked as we were, in Mission, we opted to drive east, to the coast. We considered South Padre Island, but seeing the traffic thicken the closer we got, we opted out at the last minute. Instead, on the advice of a fella we met while pulled over for a few licks of an ice cream, we set our Garmin to direct us to Boca Chica. The beach was beautiful, we were told, and no one cares if your dog plays the goof, provided she doesn't bother anyone else.

We were sold.

It wasn't a long drive, but it was a damn flat one. When we arrive in south Texas each year, I'm always thrilled to see the scrub brush, flatlands and palm trees. It's a completely alien world compared to what I grew up with in Canada. By the time we're getting ready to head north, I long for mountains. As the miles down the lone road to Boca Chica clicked by, I starting to whine that I knew what would be around the next corner... it would be flat and dry, with just a hint of dust, just as with the last corner we'd whipped around. Read the rest

Fly the less-than-friendly skies with Air Koryo

You're not a successful nation state until you've got a flag airline, baby! Air Canada! British Airways! Hell yeah!

That said, it appears that it is possible be a dramatically less-than-successful nation and still have a flag airline. In North Korea's case, that airline would be Air Koryo. Chances are, most of us will never be unfortunate enough to hop on one of their flights to one of its five far eastern destinations. I'm pretty sure that's not such a bad thing. Read the rest

FAA just banned these recalled Apple laptops from flights and cargo

* FAA says some MacBook Pros are unsafe on airplanes • Apple recently recalled certain laptops over battery fire risk Read the rest

The explorer who found the Titanic is off to find Amelia Earhart's plane

Robert Ballard is the oceanic detective who turned up the Titanic in 1985, the lost Nazi ship Bismarck, and many other shipwrecks. Now he's off to to find Amelia Earhart's plane that hasn't been seen since she and her navigator disappeared over the Pacific ocean on July 2, 1937 during their flight around the world. And based on a photo taken just a few months after Earhart disappeared, Ballard is pretty sure he knows where the plane crashed. From the New York Times:

Kurt M. Campbell, who served as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs in the Obama administration, invited Dr. Ballard to a meeting. The two had known each other since their days in Naval intelligence.

Mr. Campbell ushered him into his office, Dr. Ballard recalled in a recent interview: “He closed the door, and he said, ‘I want to show you a picture.’”

First, he offered Dr. Ballard a grainy black-and-white photo. “He said, ‘What do you see?’ I said, ‘I see an island with a ship on a reef?’ And he said, ‘No, look over to the left.’”

As Dr. Ballard squinted at the blur, Mr. Campbell handed him a second, digitally enhanced image. Mr. Campbell said the smudge was landing gear from a Lockheed Model 10-E Electra. And the reef in the picture was part of tiny Nikumaroro Island, in the mostly uninhabited Phoenix Islands.

There it was, a precise place to look for Earhart’s plane.

“I went, ‘I’ll be damned,’” he said.

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FAA just found a new safety risk on 737 MAX

Boeing must address the issue before grounded jets fly again.

Watch this owl's incredibly precise flying

Not only are owls incredibly agile flyers, they're also silently stealthy.

(r/NatureIsFuckingLit)

Owl through legs (full speed)
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Why birds fly in a V formation

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" Read the rest

Absolutely spectacular first-ever air-to-air images of supersonic jets' shockwaves interacting

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.

From NASA:

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.

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Boy can't handle meeting the Queen, drops to all fours and scurries away instead

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

Aviation authority investigating UFOs over Ireland

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 Read the rest

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