Perching plane lands like a bird, according to an article in New Scientist, 14 October 2006, p32. Ephrahim Garcia of Cornell University, New York is developing an aircraft that can land vertically like a bird. When birds land they flare their wing feathers and angle them against the airflow. They then flare the tail feathers and bend them down to produce drag and slow the bird enough to land safely. Garcia’s plane has wings which rotate upwards, forcing the fuselage down, and a tail attached to a long articulated boom that can drop down. Changing the angle of the wings and tail produces the same drag effect as a bird produces with it wing and tail movements.

If Garcia’s design is successful it could be used for small, pilotless surveillance planes to enable them to land on a building if they need to keep observing one location for a long time, rather than remaining airborne and using up fuel. Garcia is still working on the landing undercarriage, but suggests that “spikey feet like a bird, with vibration-absorbing legs” would work. Ron Fearing, a specialist in “bio-inpsired flight” commented that using the tail to change from flying to perching mode is a “nice idea” and added, “Being able to provide this manoeuvrability to an aircraft is a very challenging problem.”

Editorial Comment: Garcia’s machine did not build itself, and if it works, Garcia, not the machine should get the praise for making it work. However, birds have been flying and landing in a far more efficient way than any aeroplane for as long as man has been around to observe them, and this is powerful testimony that a far smarter engineer designed birds, so it is really foolish to give the praise to the birds. Ron Fearing and other engineers who look to biology for their inspiration to solve their “very challenging problems” should give glory to the Creator who has shown them the answers to the problems in the living things He has made. (Ref. bio mimicry, biotechnology, aeronautics)

Evidence News 22 November 2006