Monday, April 13, 2009

Artificial Feathers Might Reduce Drag

NewScientist has an interesting article:

Fake feathers could take the drag out of flights
Birds use long, stiff flight feathers to help generate the lift and thrust needed to get off the ground and to stay aloft. But Alessandro Bottaro at the University of Genoa is more interested in how a set of smaller feathers – called coverts – keep birds flying efficiently.

But what worries me is that we might end up with feathers becoming fashionable again for the travelling class. I've summarized my concerns below:
  1. Pilots, when asked to wear feather boas to conform to current fashion might go on strike because it makes them look 'too gay' - except of course on New Year's Eve.
  2. New, high-fashion jackets covered in feathers inspire passengers to exit the airplane in flight, screaming 'I can fly!!' as they hurtle towards the ground.
  3. 767s covered in feathers unaccountably begin performing mating displays during stops in South American countries.
  4. Small aircraft with new ultra-low-drag feather coatings unable to take off unless told they are 'pretty birds'
  5. Ultralight aircraft begin routinely flying into large picture windows
  6. Cat psychosis rates skyrocket
  7. Fire hazard from stockpiled 'nesting materials' in hangars closes major airports
  8. MD-50 aircraft require modification to avoid 'stooping' during decent
  9. Accidental use of ostrich feathers grounds entire UPS cargo fleet
  10. Hunters accidentally 'bring down' a Northwest Orient flight, mistaking it for a quail

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