08 Feb Why Birds Don’t Need Rudders
Well, as a pilot myself I have a fascination for anything that flies whether imagined or actual. Therefore, I have no problem sitting in a park and watching birds fly by putting on a private air show going about their business and doing their thing. They seem to enjoy flying sideways, and their maneuverability is extremely proficient along with their ability to morph their wings and feathers to come in for the perfect two point landing. Their level of agility has been a fascination of mankind, aerospace designers, and today’s modern pilots. Okay so let’s talk.
It seems we like to copy nature for most of our technological designs. As well we should, because evolution has created the most efficient solutions to the challenges of mobility in this domain. It seems humans have a tough time building an airplane without a vertical fin. They have trouble keeping it going straight. Interestingly enough, birds don’t seem to have a problem flying straight, and their bodies are not shaped like a fin, they don’t have fins like fish at all. Have you ever asked yourself why?
It’s not that evolution couldn’t have provided this, it has provided fins for other animals that move through other mediums such as water, but when it came to birds apparently they didn’t need the extra fin or the rudder to help steer them. It seems to me there’s a simple reason for this, and it is the same reason that someone flying a hang glider doesn’t need a vertical fin. The hang glider can shift his weight from side to side and if he keeps his body perfectly situated to the relative wind there’s not a problem with lateral control.
When a bird wishes to turn, they just lean a certain way, or they can crab into the wind and fly sideways without any problem at all. They don’t seem to be challenged by crosswind landings or steering in any regard. The gentleman that flies the Delta-wing jet on his back after he parachutes from an airplane, tells audiences and enthusiasts that he just leans in the direction he wishes to travel. His wing doesn’t even change shape, but he still has full control.
Maybe airplanes don’t really need wings they just need a way to shift their weight and morph the fuselage slightly, something that living species can learn very quickly. Species which include all of the birds, bats, insects, and humans with Delta wings and hang gliders strapped to their back. I ask that you close your eyes, and think about this for a few moments. Then go design something, something that flies straight and true. Please consider all this.