A recent morning in Jadwin Gym saw students in Jason Puchalla's Physics 108 class learning to operate remote control birds and mini quadcopters, part of a hands-on lesson in the complexities of animal flight.
The test flights demonstrated the limitations of Bernoulli's Principle in predicting the ways creatures get—and stay—airborne.
Puchalla had students test the basic principles of the Bernoulli Effect—the pressure difference above and below a fixed wing as it moves through the air, creating lift—with paper and straws. Applying the effect to flying drones, however, proved to be much less straightforward.
Puchalla told the class that the flight of some birds and insects is actually more analogous to swimming than anything you'd see in an aircraft design textbook. "If you look at those wings, they don't look like airplane wings...they're scooping out a bit of air and throwing it back."
Watch the video below or on YouTube to learn more and see the drones in action.