Flight

Owl’s Silent Flight May Inspire Quiet Aircraft Tech

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 17, 2004   View Article

A few years ago, the silent brush of a barn owl’s wing sent Trish Nixon reeling from her porch in the still of the night. She never heard the owl, just saw its “ghostly white form float past.”

Nixon is a raptor specialist with The Peregrine Fund in Boise, Idaho. She often speaks about the silent flight of owls, but the porch incident spoke to her louder than words. “The owl lifted from the ground, and I didn’t hear a sound, which is why I totally lost my cool when a wing brushed against me,” she said.

Fossil Egg Finds Yield Clues to How Pterosaurs Lived

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 2, 2004   View Article

The discoveries of two fossilized eggs from the ancient flying reptiles known as pterosaurs were announced Wednesday. The finds raise to three the number of known pterosaur eggs—the one other known egg was only announced last summer.

Until very recently, scientists wondered if the reptiles that filled the skies in the age of the dinosaurs laid eggs or gave birth to live young like mammals do.

Where Is Amelia Earhart? – Three Theories

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 15, 2003   View Article

In the early morning hours of July 2, 1937, Amelia Earhart was scheduled to land her airplane on the tiny Pacific Ocean island of Howland just north of the Equator. She never arrived.

Her fate remains one of aviation’s greatest unsolved mysteries. Organizations and researchers have spent millions of dollars investigating the case and several books have been published that examine the differing theories.

Dino-Age Flyers Were Sharp-Eyed, Nimble, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 29, 2003   View Article

Chances were good that prey snared in the sight of a soaring pterodactyl was as good as dead as soon as it was spotted, according to scientists who used sophisticated scanners and computer graphics to digitally reconstruct the brains of the extinct flying reptiles.

“It gives us a window into the behavior of these animals in a way we never thought possible,” said Lawrence Witmer, an evolutionary biologist at Ohio University in Athens.

Monumental Quilt Honors 9/11 Victims

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: September 10, 2003   View Article

She watched Flight 175 ram the north tower of the World Trade Center and, like most TV viewers, sat stunned. Minutes later, the smoldering south tower collapsed. Then word came that Flight 77 had struck the Pentagon. Then the north tower crumbled. In Pennsylvania, dust settled around the crater left by Flight 93.

Jeannie Ammermann said the tragic events of September 11, 2001, changed her life forever. The next day, fidgety, she sat at her desk at a real estate office in Naples, Florida, and jotted down ideas of what she could do for the victims’ families.

For Thrush, Flight Less Taxing Than “Rest,” Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 11, 2003   View Article

Over the course of their migration from Panama to Canada, New World Catharus thrushes spend twice as much energy slurping worms, munching snails, and heating their bodies than they do actually flapping their wings in flight, according to new research.

Henk Visser, a zoologist at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands, said that although this seems counterintuitive, it makes sense.

Fruit Flies Highlight Aerodynamics of Insect Flight

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 23, 2003   View Article

To swat a fly can be a lesson in futility. The insect darts from each swipe with uncanny precision, altering its course to zip off in nearly the opposite direction.

Precisely how a fly achieves its aerial acrobatics is more than a curiosity of annoyance for Michael Dickinson, a bioengineer at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Dickinson has built an entire research lab, not to mention professional career, seeking an answer to just how a fly’s brain controls its muscles in precision flight.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach