The Objective : This project studied the amount of energy birds saved by flying in a V formation compared to solo flight. My hypothesis was that flying in formation reduces wind drag and leads to greater flight efficiency. I focued on Pink-Footed Geese because published information on this bird species was readily available. My work was unique because it used a wind tunnel rather than mathematical models.
For the experiments, a wind tunnel was constructed using a large fan and side walls. A pair of geese were built out of Legos at 1/5 scale.
The birds were positioned at several different offsets relative to each other. The force on the rear bird was measured using a scale and simple lever mechanism.
I compared the force on the rear bird for the various positions of the front bird and analyzed the results.
I found that there is a significant advantage for flying in formation. When flying in very close formation, the rear bird requires 53.3% less energy than flying solo.
For more realistic spacing, the rear bird saves about 30%.
Although the experiments were a bit crude and could be refined, my results matched the efficiency gains found in the published literature. My work can be extended to other applications such as bicycle racing or race cars.
This project studied the amount of energy birds saved by flying in a V formation compared to solo flight.
Science Fair Project done By Timmy A. Beckmann
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