Humanity has always been inspired by nature. We have learnt how to survive, adapt and thrive from the earth and the stars. Our centuries-long thirst to master flight has also come from nature. Otto Lillienthal, an early pioneer of heavier-than-air flight, studied birds such as the White Stork for decades (see below). This helped him formulate his theories in aerodynamics, which became the basis for his gliders that eventually inspired the Wright Brothers.
Credit: Otto Lilienthal: Birdflight as the Basis of Aviation
This phenomenon has survived well into modern times, both by chance and intention. The B-2 Spirit, for instance, shares a strong likeness with a peregrine falcon in cross-section. Airbus, hunting efficiency gains, has studied migrating flocks of geese. Flying commercial aircraft in a similar formation, they calculate, will cut CO2 emissions by at least 5%.
Credit: Sylvain Cordier / naturepl.com
However, it’s not just birds that have mastered flight in nature. Here at Greenjets, we are also inspired by a species of seeds and flowers that have evolved to ‘fly’ in order to thrive. The most popular amongst them is the family of helicopter seeds, such as those dispersed by the Sycamore tree. These seeds are enclosed in a wing-like structure that helps them travel much further than gravity alone would permit - a process known as anemochory. Scientists at CalTech discovered that these flying seeds generate more lift than the sum of their airfoil sections combined. One can argue, then, that seeds have found more success at conquering flight than birds.
These seeds have found success in a competitive ecosystem by means of mastering flight; a mission deeply embodied by the Greenjets team as we work to enable the widespread adoption of electric aviation.