Albatrosses, airplanes, and helicopters all share long narrow wings which provide good aerodynamic efficiency. In contrast the wings of hummingbirds are short and stubby. Conventional aerodynamic theory predicts this should makes them inefficient.
In a new study, researchers resolved some of the contradiction by finding that while slender wings are indeed most efficient at a low of angle of incidence, stubby wings are most efficient at extreme angles, because they do not stall.
This finding could help design wings for drone planes which are less likely to stall and thus safer to operate.
Original research paper published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface on March 17, 2015.
Names and affiliations of selected authors
Douglas L. Altshuler, University of British Columbia, British Columbia
Contact: David Lentink, Stanford University, U.S.A.