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Animal Locomotion$
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Andrew Biewener and Sheila Patek

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198743156

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198743156.001.0001

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Movement in Air

Movement in Air

(p.114) Chapter 6 Movement in Air
Animal Locomotion
Andrew A. Biewener, Shelia N. Patek
Oxford University Press

Aerial flight involves the same fluid mechanical principles as aquatic locomotion. However, the 800-fold lower density of air compared with water has marked consequences on the mechanisms of aerial locomotion. We examine the forces acting on a flying animal in which these fluid forces can be calculated. We then consider how basic features of the wings and body affect flight forces. Building on this understanding, we examine the power requirements associated with flight as a function of flight speed, based on conventional aerodynamics (i.e. steady airflow past non-oscillating wings, which applies to most engineered aircraft). Gliding flight is explained by steady-state theory and is discussed in this context. However, because flying animals must flap their wings to support weight and overcome drag, non-steady aerodynamic effects come into play. These non-steady aerodynamic effects are revealed by tracking the flow over a moving wing or by the use of robotic models.

Keywords:   lift, drag, thrust, Reynolds number, wing loading, gliding, flapping, flight power, unsteady aerodynamics, stability

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