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[Edited to short description followed by details]
In short: The following is an alternative to land
transportation. If people got together and learned
how to glide together in formation, similar to the
way birds flock, they would only need the energy to
reach a certain hight, and glide
from there with a
wing suit together most of the way. So the morning
ride to work would be much more fun AND FASTER
and healthier and better - no congestion, much less
pollution, and free the roads to wildlife (if any is
Instead of getting into a car then following a thin
predefined line directly into a traffic jam, and then
slowly advancing to work, or sitting in a stuffed train
with people who are no fun to be with, wouldn't it
be more thrilling to gather at a field, 100 people and
more, who usually go to work on a two hour ride to
the same area, and around this hour, then slowly lift
off together on a hot air stream, in a circular
formation, with a few leaders, using personal super
ultralight glider wings. Once you reach enough
height, the formation is changed to a giant
arrowhead, and either with fly-suits or using the
ultralight glider which can change wing form, start
swooping down at 270 kph or slowly advancing while
loosing height and scanning the horizon until
reaching half way. Of course everything is done
without breaking the formation, and in full
cooperation with the rest of the flock.
Then you can choose to join some other group of
people going closer to your real destination. You
reach work after a good workout, seeing the world
from a birds view, having a great time and showing
off your latest stunts. The formations would be
controlled with music, similar to what birds do, so
you would also have fun singing on the way to work,
and it would be functional.
Within a short time, most people would realize that
driving a car is no fun, doesn't get you on time
anywhere, and just makes an ecological barrier to kill
land animals, while emitting light pollution. They
would then join the Airflock movement. Of course
older people and disabled would use the train, but
because it is mostly empty, it would have a gym in
it, and besides all land transportation will be
replaced by a Shweeb...
Of course, in order to join an airflock you would
have to first study at an airflocking course for about
a month, and have at least three friends attest to
your being compliant to the flocking rules (watching
it on YouTube would not be enough, because you
have to really experience it).
Occasionally flocking groups get together with an
experienced guide for a really thrilling experience of
flying with the bird migration. See link.
For driving between coastal cities, especially on
days when the weather is too wet and cold, and also
for cross ocean travel, groups of divers could get
together and migrate with the fish, using dive-
bikes. In this case they would probably need
protection from sharks and the like: Tiny robot fish
that give the sharks an unpleasant sting on their
taste buds whenever they get too close to our flock.
These protective robofish will be developed by
For initial propulsion you may use compressed air
balloons filled on the site with bicycle power for
about 10 minutes before takeoff.
Another possibility would be to takeoff using a field
of "launch balloons": a harness connected to a
helium balloon which is tied to an earthbound low
cost manual winch. The flock releases itself
together. People in a bad mood cannot join the fun.
A preliminary mood test of course will be mandatory.
//Shana tova, may you be written in the book of
life, for a good long happy and healthy life. Moshe
Of course nothing like this, much slower and less extreme... [pashute, Mar 11 2010]
Just follow the luge track
[normzone, Mar 11 2010]
soaring like birds is possible
unmanned aircraft that soars in thermals [pashute, Apr 11 2010]
Songs and calls in birds
See number 9 [pashute, Mar 23 2011]
Listen to them at 0:59 [pashute, Mar 23 2011]
Georgann Schmalz is a Past President
Teaches you how to learn bird-song [pashute, Mar 23 2011]
Swarm of swallows
Up close. Communicating with each other... [pashute, Mar 23 2011]
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||was the idea too long this time?
please give me real feedback! i don't care about the votes.
||I still think this is the best idea I had on HB.
People flock to work every day in trains, buses and cars (and planes and boats). Wouldn't it be great to do it thru the air, using your muscles, and in dancelike unison with a group of people?
||it'll never get off the ground.
||This still beats my lugeboard-to-work idea of years ago. I live inland from the thermals at the beach cliffs by 20 miles or so, and this would be more practical there.
||Just like unprotected sex and riding motorcycles in close formation, you'd want to be choosy about who you did this with, if only for safety reasons. But I'd give it a try.
||The main problem here, as I read it, is that your real invention is the // personal super ultralight glider wings / which can change wing form [and swoop] at 270 kph / using your muscles //, which you have failed to explain at all. You gloss over this as if it's taken for granted that such things exist, or could, when that is entirely non-obvious. The rest is just a let's-all.
||I thought I made it clear that you are only gliding down in a wing-suit (already invented) with the power of gravity and using air resistance for direction. To get up to the hight from which you begin your glide down, I proposed a "helium elevator" or ultralight gliders using a "thermal". I never mentioned muscle power. See new link.
||It is perfectly possible for a human to use thermals for lift, and to cover considerable distances by hopping from one thermal to the next.
||This needs a large glider (large because to fly effeciently requires high aspect ratio wings).
||The pilot also needs a good degree of skill. While small birds can do it easily, flying is very much a second language to humans.
||To get enough altitude to use thermal lift still needs a high density power source. Either a winch on the ground (although 100 winch cables in close proximity could become interesting) or an engine fitted to the glider.
||10 minutes pedalling at a reasonably strong 200W would get a 75kg person plus a 30kg glider to a height of 114m at 100% effeciency. In the real world, a glider winch uses an engine, often 100HP+, and launches to a height of 400m or more.
||Apart from the practical considerations listed above, I see this idea as "Use the increased effeciency of formation flying".
||I'm not sure whether artificial wings can use the effect in the way that birds do, or whether human pilots could be trusted to fly in such close formation.
||I repeat the idea that the close formation would be kept by singing together (probably the reason birds sing) and using "timed signals".
||"close formation would be kept by singing together" = magic.
||If we could co-ordinate our efforts by singing, we should start with world peace and move onto trivia, such as commuting, at a later date.
||Birds have the advantage of very well developed feedback from their flight surfaces. In a manner not unlike balance, they can respond reflexively to small changes in airflow so maintain their position in the wake of the lead bird without thinking about it.
||An aircraft can be fitted with arrays of sensors and an on-board computer to perform a similar function, but I guess this falls well beyond the scope of lightweight personal gliders.
||Hi Twizz, have you ever heard of dancing? That is
done with music... ok your right, music is magic.
||I'm watching a flock of birds right now (swallows).
They constantly communicate while flying.
Nothing to do with "feedback from flight surfaces"
They land or decide to continue flight this way or
that - all in coordination, and mostly with nothing
to do with the wind (which in the last hour was
stable and constant in one direction in the area
they were flying.) Every turn and twist and change
is accompanied by a line of repeated and specific
||While it is undeniable that birds fly and birds sing, it is something of a leap of faith to say that the song is necessarily real-time co-ordination of the flight patterns of hundreds or thousands of birds.
||When you look at the close proximity of flocking birds (especially swallows) and the speed of flight, it is difficult to imagine that there is a fast enough flow of data in the song to communicate an individuals location or direction in three dimensional space.
||Dance (as in ballet etc.) is a limited set of pre-arranged manouvres. Music is used to synchronise dancers. Dance (as interpreted by myself) is a series of random movements which co-exist uneasily with music.
||It requires a good degree of practise to get a bunch of squaddies to walk in close formation and synchronise a few basic turns in response to verbal commands. To do a similar thing at high speed in three dimensions is beyond mere humans.
||If you want to make this happen, you'll need to go and evolve for several million years. Let me know how you get on.
||No not a leap of faith, but rather a fact confirmed
by ornithologists for at least 40 years. See [link].
||(To a standing crowd) I'll clap 8 times slowly in
rhythm. After my 4th clap
join me. At 9 we all jump up.
1! 2! 3! 4! ok 5! 6! 7! ready? jump!
How much training does that take?
Music is magic. And it seems we have evolved for
several million years. It's going great.
||Did you see my request to contact? (On a totally
different topic - bike making).
||With enough people, you wouldn't need any glider wings or
balloons. If everyone snuggle up real close, they would
create a large continuous surface. With enough people,
this surface would be large enough to work as a wing,
composed of hundreds (probably thousands) of human
bodies. With more enough people, it would be large
enough to have a very slow glide rate and very gentle
angle of descent.
||As a slight variation, I wonder if large formations of
skydivers have ever tried to create a "human parachute"?
The largest formation, I think, was something like 400
people. If they snuggled up (instead of forming an open
lattice linked by arms and legs) into a sort of circular
inverted bowl, they would have a combined surface area of
something like 3000 square feet.
||A regular old-fashioned round parachute has an area of
something like 500sq.ft, so a 3000 sqft chute would have
significant drag. Probably not sufficient to land, but
sufficient to slow descent considerably, shirley?
||EDIT. I've just done some calculations for small mammals
(assuming a density of 1, and a thickness of about 1 inch).
It transpires that, if enough such small mammals packed
themselves closely enough together to cover the ground,
and then all ran over the edge of a cliff, they would form a
very efficient flying wing.
||Therefore, I postulate that the [admittedly apocryphal]
behaviour of lemmings is an evolutionarily sound migratory
technique. The only problem is that modern lemming
swarms are insufficiently dense to form a continuous
||"insufficiently dense to form a continuous lemmoid wing"
||It's based on a suspect lemma.
||<Did you see my request to contact? (On a totally different topic - bike making).
pashute, Mar 23 2011>
||Didn't see it - couldn't find a mechanism to contact an individual on HB - but would be welcome.
||//behaviour of lemmings is an evolutionarily sound migratory technique// - well, maybe if they'd start learning to sing *before* they get to the cliff edge.
||I've directed choirs with much the same tendency; maybe it's just an instinctive mammalian thing.
||my user at gmail. (pashute means simple in Hebrew)
||The link at ornithology.com item 9 says:
||To hold flock together: Calls but usually Song...