February meeting: ‘Flight’ by Francis Hickenbottom

Tonight, our very own professor Brian Cox aka Francis Hickenbottom was our speaker for the February meeting.  Entitled ‘Flight’ Francis gave us an interesting talk about how birds wings are designed to help them live in specific habitats. He explained the dynamics of bird flight using graphics and images in layman’s terms so that we got a basic understanding of the complex forces in play for flight, whether it be birds or aircraft!  Albatross wings are a perfect example of how they are adapted to fly many hundreds of miles, using their very long wings for gliding close to the surface of the sea, and use small changes in wind direction to maximum advantage .  Francis gave us several other examples including the Humming birds which, unlike other birds which only produce lift when they flap their wings downwards, they can do so on their up stroke by inverting their wings rather like flying insects. They are also the only birds with the abilities to fly backwards and to conserve energy while they sleep or food is scarce they are able to go into a hibernation-like state.

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