Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Airflock to work

The way the birds do it
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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 left).


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 WowWee.

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 aka Pashute.

pashute, Sep 15 2009

wingsuit http://www.youtube....watch?v=JHlOvhlKPvs
Of course nothing like this, much slower and less extreme... [pashute, Mar 11 2010]

Just follow the luge track Land_20luge_20commuter_20lanes
[normzone, Mar 11 2010]

soaring like birds is possible http://www.pulsepla...ailies.php?POP=4691
unmanned aircraft that soars in thermals [pashute, Apr 11 2010]

Songs and calls in birds http://www.ornithol.../SongsandCalls.html
See number 9 [pashute, Mar 23 2011]

http://www.youtube....watch?v=6Et5slWQ1MM Listen to them at 0:59 [pashute, Mar 23 2011]

Georgann Schmalz is a Past President http://www.birdjam.com/howto
Teaches you how to learn bird-song [pashute, Mar 23 2011]

Swarm of swallows http://www.youtube....watch?v=9qwaUJMss1Y
Up close. Communicating with each other... [pashute, Mar 23 2011]


       vechen lemar [una]!
pashute, Sep 16 2009

       was the idea too long this time? please give me real feedback! i don't care about the votes.
pashute, Sep 16 2009

       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?
pashute, Mar 11 2010

       it'll never get off the ground.
FlyingToaster, Mar 11 2010

       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.
normzone, Mar 11 2010

       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.
BunsenHoneydew, Mar 19 2010

       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.
pashute, Apr 11 2010

       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.
Twizz, Apr 12 2010

       I repeat the idea that the close formation would be kept by singing together (probably the reason birds sing) and using "timed signals".
pashute, Apr 12 2010

       "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.
Twizz, Apr 12 2010

       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 chirps.
pashute, Mar 22 2011

       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.
Twizz, Mar 22 2011

       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).
pashute, Mar 23 2011

       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 lemmoid wing.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 23 2011

       "insufficiently dense to form a continuous lemmoid wing"   

       There's a tagline.
normzone, Mar 23 2011

       It's based on a suspect lemma.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 23 2011

       <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.
Twizz, Mar 25 2011

       //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.
lurch, Mar 25 2011

       my user at gmail. (pashute means simple in Hebrew)
pashute, Mar 27 2011

       The link at ornithology.com item 9 says:   

       To hold flock together: Calls but usually Song...
pashute, Jun 29 2012


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