Fascinating Flight

Biologist Ken Dial has documented in extraordinary detail how birds are put together and the mechanics of how they take to the air. With support from the National Science Foundation, Dial and his team at the University of Montana Flight Lab use x-rays and high speed video to better understand the mechanics of bird flight. Dial’s more than 2,000 flight hours as a pilot in a wide range of aircraft adds another dimension to his research. Perhaps, by mimicking what birds have learned over millions of years, aircraft wings could change shape to accommodate both slow and fast flight, or a helicopter propeller’s shape might be altered to be more efficient. Dial’s research is also focusing on what birds, including those that don’t fly, can show us about developing autonomous robots that can move both on land and in the air, as well as climb. Producer: Marsha Walton

Provided by the National Science Foundation

Runtime: 2:34

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