Leonardo da Vinci’s discovery of the dynamic soaring by birds in wind shear
Richardson, Philip L.
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Although Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) is well-known to have studied bird flight, few people realize that he was the first to document flight maneuvers now called dynamic soaring. Birds use these maneuvers to extract energy from the gradient of wind velocity (wind shear) for sustained flight. In his Manuscript E (circa 1513-1515) Leonardo described land birds performing flight maneuvers that match those of albatrosses and other seabirds when they are engaged in dynamic soaring over the ocean. His description predates by almost 400 years the first generally-accepted explanation of the physics of this soaring technique by Lord Rayleigh in 1883. Leonardo’s early description of dynamic soaring is one of his major aerodynamic discoveries.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2018. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here under a nonexclusive, irrevocable, paid-up, worldwide license granted to WHOI. It is made available for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Notes and Records: the Royal Society Journal of the History of Science (2018), doi:10.1098/rsnr.2018.0024.
Suggested CitationPreprint: Richardson, Philip L., "Leonardo da Vinci’s discovery of the dynamic soaring by birds in wind shear", 2018-07-03, https://doi.org/10.1098/rsnr.2018.0024, https://hdl.handle.net/1912/10641
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