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Wingtip feathers increase aerodynamic efficiency: flying birds

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Bald Eagle / Alan D. Wils.. / LicenseCC-by-sa - Attribution Share Alike

Wingtip feathers in birds are aerodynamically efficient because of their torsional flexibility.

"Nature, by contrast, takes a less disdainful attitude toward torsion--in some applications adequate resistance matters, but in many others function depends on having sufficient torsional flexibility. A bird's wingtip feathers must twist in one direction during the upstroke of the wings and in the other direction during the downstroke to keep the local wind striking the wing at an appropriate angle to generate lift and thrustThe turning could be done at the base, with a completely inflexible feather; the aerodynamics are improved and material saved if the local flow forces twist the feather by just the right amount." (Vogel 2003:382)
About the inspiring organism

Learn more at EOL.org
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Improved airline wingtips, exceptionally efficient small planes for transporting goods or people locally.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Aviation

Steven Vogel. 2003. Comparative Biomechanics: Life's Physical World. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 580 p.
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Thank you, Ian, for posting this resource!
Wikipedia has more information on how wingtip devices are used in aviation design in this article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wingtip_device
over 3 years ago
Thanks to Duarte Miguel Prazeres for adding photos to this strategy.
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