Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Bird Brain

If I ran Ford I’d be investing in R&D on the bird brain.


I had a chance while waiting for my car to get fixed to watch a flock of black birds wheeling through the skies around the dealership.

The birds cruised in and out of the air space in perfect formation. How do they do that? Up and down, left and right, in and out the birds wheeled over the buildings and roads and settled on the power lines spaced about 6-inches apart from each other.

Then, on a moment’s notice they leapt off the wire into the sky to perform another low altitude air show before settling back to the same wire.


No collisions. No feather benders. No rear-ending. No tail-gating.

Just precision flying for no apparent reason.

Meanwhile, on the freeway just yards from the bird roost was an an endless display of collisions, fender benders and rear ending. Obviously, the car drivers weren’t watching the birds.

Imagine if we could teach airplanes to fly like birds. Instead of lining up to land, stacked in the sky as we have all seen, the flights could swoop down on the airport landing one after another in a model of cooperation.

Like a startled flock, airplanes could all take off at once mindful of each others position.

When’s the last time you saw two birds collide in mid-air?

Now, there’s something to think about.

It could change the whole way we think about air travel.

“Flock 1003 to Colorado Springs is now departing from branch B-12.”

We’d all take off at once. That would be exciting!


Justin said...

Hey! you seem to 've a lot of interest in birds.....you can check out this post on my avian companion . I hope u'll njoy it..

Anonymous said...

Ah, you should watch a flock of pelicans in formation flight. They are a thing of beauty in the air - and then they land.
I suppose if runways were as wide as they were long, you might get your wish for large numbers of aircraft to take off in formation. In my early days in the Strategic Air Command we did minimum interval takeoffs (MITO) with multiple B-52s and KC-135s taking of 30 seconds apart, sometimes in weather even a bird wouldn't fly in. It was a very exciting ride.
In reality, military formation flight is just as amazing as the bird's flight to an observor. Air refueling is another variation that has been going on for a long time that is even more amazing because it involves different types of very large planes in very close proximity. It would be like an eagle and a vulture trying formation flying.

Margaret said...

I love the way that (nearly) every single bird out of a long telephone wire loaded with them will be facing the same way. How do they know which is the *right* way?