The Aerodynamics and Control of Free Flight Manoeuvres in Drosophila

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2016 Sep 26;371(1704):20150388. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0388.


A firm understanding of how fruit flies hover has emerged over the past two decades, and recent work has focused on the aerodynamic, biomechanical and neurobiological mechanisms that enable them to manoeuvre and resist perturbations. In this review, we describe how flies manipulate wing movement to control their body motion during active manoeuvres, and how these actions are regulated by sensory feedback. We also discuss how the application of control theory is providing new insight into the logic and structure of the circuitry that underlies flight stability.This article is part of the themed issue 'Moving in a moving medium: new perspectives on flight'.

Keywords: Drosophila; aerodynamics; control theory; flight; insects.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Feedback, Sensory
  • Flight, Animal*
  • Wings, Animal / anatomy & histology
  • Wings, Animal / physiology*