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BIRD FLIGHT

An Introduction to different modes of

a birds flight

Outline of presentation
Introduction
Modes of flight
Practical applications of study
Conclusion

Introduction
..Human fly commercially or recreationally, but birds fly
professionally..[1]

If a problem is taken up and modeled with reasonable

accuracy, the optimized solution to the problem
obtained is what cleverly embedded in nature.

learn.

With the same motivation, learning to fly from nature

inspired to share the information on bird flight.

Different Modes of flight

Gliding
Flapping
Soaring
Hovering

Gliding flight

If the birds stop flapping and keep their wings stretched out, the
flight is called as gliding flight.

generated.

Gliding must be visualized as moving down from a reference level

from where gliding starts.

Birds tilt their wing down by a angle which is the gliding angle for
the bird.

By equating the horizontal forces components, we

get
L sin(a)=D cos(a)
a is the gliding angle

The gliding angle, hence, depends on L/D ratio of wing

structure.
For higher ratio, bird can cover more horizontal range in
gliding.
Species

(L/D) max

Swift

17 (+5.0 deg)

Petrel

Hawk

Vulture

As a comparison of bird flight and Boeing 767-200 (Gimli

glider incident), the glide ratio was 12:1

Flapping
The

biological flyers generate lift by flapping wing

mechanism.
Birds powered flight is actually composed offlapping, twisting and folding.
Twisting is required because different sections of
wing tilt from ref. level during flapping.
Twisting the wing makes a.o.a nearly uniform
throughout the wing
Folding is necessary as the upstroke actually
slows down the flight. By folding, drag can be
reduced

A flock of domestic pigeons each

in a different phase of its flap.

aerodynamics

The three dimensionless parameters in flapping-flight

aerodynamics Reynolds number
Strouhal number
Reduced frequency

The flapping wing aerodynamics is studied using

Froude momentum theory[3] applied for rotocraft.

Strouhal number and Reduced

frequency

Strouhal number
A dimensionless number for oscillating flow
mechanism. It relates the frequency of shed vortex to
velocity of the flow impinging on the surface and the
characteristic length.
St=
f-reduced frequency
L-characteristic length
U-velocity

The optimum value of St for best thrust efficiency is

0.25-0.40 and fish body (oscillating aerofoil) have a
propulsive efficiency of 85% [4]

Reduced frequency

problem[5]

The resultant force F on an aerofoil of chord c oscillating at

angular frequency
in the flow of velocity V can be written as

frequency
K=

For k=0, the flow is steady, for 0

k
0.05 flow can be
analyzed by quasi-steady analysis. For reduced frequency above
this value, the flow is unsteady.

Momentum theory

The momentum theory considers the rotor to be thin disc

called actuator disc.
There is no velocity jump across the disc, but there is a
pressure jump.
This pressure jump causes the resultant thrust force.

By the application of conservation of momentum, we

get
( w-velocity of
wake in far stream)

(vi-

The analysis shows that the velocity induced by

rotor is half the velocity in the far stream, where
the wake is convected downstream

Also

where the ratio (T/A) is called

(BET) is found in ref [5]

The bird flight can be modeled from the momentum

theory[2] by assuming that the upstroke-downstroke
of the bird flight forms a rotor like geometry during
flapping.

The wingtips paths of different birds are different. So

a generalized theory for all birds is not possible. But
an approximate description of thrust force can be
given by momentum theory.

Insect flight during two half

strokes

Image taken from Aerodynamic modelling of insect-like flapping flight for micro air
vehicles [6]

Hovering

Hovering is to have zero forward velocity.

(As a fun fact it is added that humming bird are true hoveres as
they can remain still in air by flapping their wings!)

Hovering depends on size, moment of inertia of wing,

d.o.f in movement of wing and wing shape. [7]

There are two types of hovering:

Symmetric hovering
Asymmetric hovering

As previously stated,
during flapping, birds
fold their wings during
asymmetric hovering.

Symmetric hovering is one

with fully extended wings
during whole cycle.

given in ref [8]

SOARING

The wing are stretched in soaring too. But, the

difference between gliding and soaring is birds dont
lose altitude in soaring.

The lift is from the natural phenomenon like thermal

currents-masses of air rising up due to rapid heating of
the surface, obstruction currents-the air getting
deflected by obstructions, etc.

Soaring birds have large and broad wings. The ratio of

body weight to size of the aerofoil is low.

The list of soaring birds is given in ref [9]

Practical applications of
study
Better understanding of lift generation

Conclusion
Birds

As

there are so many variants in bird

species each having some unique feature
of flight it is worth studying the nature of
bird flight

In

short, we can call the nature as store

house of ideas and inspiration for safe
and better designs

THANK YOU

References
1.

Henderson(1980)

2.

An aerodynamic analysis of bird wings as fixed aerofoil Philip

C. Withers
journal of exp.bio (1981)

3.

A new method for explaining the generation of aerodynamic

forces in flapping flight S. Sunada, C. P. Ellington

4.

Oscillating foils of high propulsive efficiency J. M. Anderson, K.

Streitlien, D. S. Barrett And M. S. Triantafyllou

5.

6.

Aerodynamic modelling of insect-like flapping flight for micro air

vehicles S.A. Ansari, , R. bikowski, K. Knowles

7.

8.

The aerodynamics of hovering insect flight V.A.Vortex theoty

C.P.Ellington

9.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_soaring_birds