The Flying Wing

There was an article in today’s Economic Times on the Flight Formation dynamics of birds .An example that it cited so often in the corporate world but practised so rarely . Creatures we generally do not credit wih intelligence have perfected the art of teamwork , community living while we are struggling with these concepts ..

Cosmic Uplink
The Flying Wing

MUKUL SHARMA

The V-shaped flight formation of migratory birds such as geese serves a purpose: all the birds fly in the upwash from the wingtip vortices of the bird ahead.This helps each bird in supporting its own weight in flight by achieving a reduction of induced drag by up to 65% that can increase their range by 71% more than if they had been flying on their own.If a bird strays,it suddenly feels the increased air resistance and quickly gets back in again.However,the lead bird of the flock,along with those at the extreme trailing ends,dont benefit from the aerodynamics of the formation and,thus,tend to tire faster.In order to spread the fatigue evenly,they deliberately fall away from the formation at regular intervals and get into selective mid-sections while other birds take up their original point and pole positions.The V-formation also has another advantage: it allows all the birds to remain in constant visual contact with one another and communicate among themselves.For example,if one bird becomes sick or injured and drops out,two other birds immediately peel away to help.They usually remain with it till the bird recovers or dies before rejoining the flock or getting into another one.Yes,there are big lessons to be learnt in this about leadership,unity of purpose,communal existence,sharing responsibilities and the importance of teamwork which are way too obvious.Yet,in reality,only the combat air forces of the world seem to have successfully assimilated them.Their strike aircraft almost invariably fly in V-formations.

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