Would planes be better if they were more like birds?

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Well-Known Member
Jun 8, 2016
Near Antwerp, Belgium
many airplanes have wings inspired on the seabirds with high aspect ratio. If i recall it right, i have read that several landbirds have the same glide ratio as those seabirds, BUT ... at lower speeds. They have lower aspect ratio which might have advantages in construction. So ... if you go towards landbirds, don't expect high speed applications. I would indeed consider bird inspired wings for low speed flying. For the sunday flyers or the beginners or the ones that land on their feet (a twisted ankle is so easy to get).

Tom DM

Well-Known Member
Supporting Member
Mar 31, 2022
EBGB Grimbergen airfield (N of Brussels, Belgium)
-but very economical=1 kg bird can fly continously 10000 km on the 0.5 kg fat,
NO water !

So the bugger flies from Alaska to New-Zeeland , passing the Fiji Islands without taking a nap , a sanitary stop nor a beer. Flying even around those.

Bad beer at Fiji I guess.


New Member
Aug 20, 2021
Melbourne, Down-Under
This thread is a treasure chest of info on bird flight - thanks all! Don't know how i missed this for so long....

I'd like to understand though how a lot of these ideas could aver be applied to human flight and the large Reynolds numbers and wing loading typically involved? My understanding is that wing flapping is efficient when there's an instationary vortex with diameter close to wing chord coming off the upper LE (sorry, can for the life of me not remember the reference :( ); which simply doesn't happen at high Re's.

Likewise i think the only human-carrying aircraft with wing loading close to birds are paragliders and hanggliders - both are somewhat flexible wings, both suck when trying to go fast ;) - but thermal great!

My writ is not intended as any critic of previous posts - i'd love to be proven wrong, and go fly with one of our local wedgetail eagles!

Cheers, Jo