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On eagles' wings: aerodynamics and flight control

Relatively little is known about the aerodynamics and control of birds in flight. For example, we understand rather little about how birds make use of a horizontal tail in lateral-directional control, in the absence of a vertical tail fin to provide weathercock stability. Likewise, almost nothing is known about how birds are able to deal with atmospheric turbulence, which they master with such finesse. In an effort to remedy this situation, the Oxford Animal Flight Group has been undertaking research with a trained Steppe Eagle, using high-speed photogrammetry, onboard video cameras, and onboard inertial instrumentation. In this talk, I will discuss wing and tail kinematics in the context of voluntary manoeuvres, gust response and alleviation, and the aerodynamics of a measured wing profile.