BioMimicry, Red Kites & 101 Club


Feather from the beautiful Eclectus Parrot (Courtesy Richard de Crespigny)

Feather from the beautiful Eclectus Parrot (Courtesy Richard de Crespigny)

BioMimicry is the study by biologists, scientists and engineers of the mechanisms and strategies of the living world, with the aim to apply them to human machines.

Predators must be tougher and faster than their prey, so creatures on top of the food chain such as raptors and sharks  show us where we can adapt and improve efficiency:

  •  The Wright Bros observed (late C19) that birds maneuvered and recovered in turbulence by slightly twisting their wing tips.  So the Wright Bros employed wing warping on their  “Wright Flier” in 1903.
  • Bert Hinkler observed and tried to mimic the Ibis.
  • Airbus covered their Beluga transport aircraft with shark skin type “riblets” to show that drag could be reduced by several percent.
  • Researchers discovered that  the leaves of Lotus plants have “self cleaning” micro structures that cause water droplets to spread across and brush dirt off the surface and thus keep the leaves clean and dry.   Aircraft designers use this technology to create durable cabin fittings and to reduce the onset of ice accretion on wings
  • Researchers are trying to build Aircraft that will “surf” the wakes of preceding aircraft for a massive fuel saving, just the actions of migrating birds.   (View this excellent video about why birds fly in formation)

 Red Kites in Slow Motion – Great Video

As good as we think we are, BioMimicry is still in its infancy.

If you marvel at the majesty of flight then observe this wonderful  video of  Red Kites in Slow Motion.

The Kites dynamically alter their centre of gravity, wing camber, dihedral, wing tip, wing sweep, angle of attack, centre of lift and tail-plane whilst approaching but limiting their approach to the stall.    If you are interested, we’ll produce an accompanying dialog that analyses their air-frame, flight controls, aerodynamics and kinematics.

(View this image of an Eagle Owl “inbound live”  if you enjoyed the Kites’ video.)

See also

101 ClubDymocks

As the QF32 book approaches it’s first publishing anniversary, Dymocks Book store readers have voted QF32 59th in the 101 Club of the Best 101 books of all time.

That’s another surprise for Richard who still sees his skills more tuned to aviation than writing.

As the book approaches its twelfth reprinting, interest remains strong, perhaps due to the:

Richard thanks Dymocks and their readers for their wonderful support!

The race is on!  United 747 vs QF12 (July 2013)  (Courtesy Richard de Crespigny)

The race is on! United 747 vs QF12 (July 2013) (Courtesy Richard de Crespigny)

See also:   QF32 Awards


  1. Peter Finlay · · Reply

    Rich I think you mean Bert “Hinkler” not “Kinkler”. (YES THANKS PETER FOR YOUR CORRECTION! – Ed)

    Kite slo-mo is wonderful. (BEYOND WONDERFUL! – Ed)


  2. Great shot mate. Your iPhone must have been at max zoom!!

  3. Thank you for the article. It is really interesting how many things in aviation have been implemented from nature and other aspects of life!

    In the BBC documentary about the A380, they explained how ideas for various aircraft systems and designs were already in use somewhere else – they were just copied!

    By the way, could we get some update on the “Big Jets” book? 🙂 Thank you

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