Exploring bird aerodynamics using radio-controlled models

Bioinspir Biomim. 2010 Dec;5(4):045008. doi: 10.1088/1748-3182/5/4/045008. Epub 2010 Nov 24.


A series of radio-controlled glider models was constructed by duplicating the aerodynamic shape of soaring birds (raven, turkey vulture, seagull and pelican). Controlled tests were conducted to determine the level of longitudinal and lateral-directional static stability, and to identify the characteristics that allowed flight without a vertical tail. The use of tail-tilt for controlling small bank-angle changes, as observed in soaring birds, was verified. Subsequent tests, using wing-tip ailerons, inferred that birds use a three-dimensional flow pattern around the wing tip (wing tip vortices) to control adverse yaw and to create a small amount of forward thrust in gliding flight.

MeSH terms

  • Aircraft*
  • Animals
  • Biomimetic Materials*
  • Birds / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Computer-Aided Design
  • Equipment Design
  • Flight, Animal / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Robotics / instrumentation
  • Telemetry / instrumentation*
  • Wings, Animal / physiology*