How Flies the Albatross – the Flight Mechanics of Dynamic Soaring 2004-01-3088
The flight mechanics of dynamic soaring are described to explain how the albatross can sustain soaring flight over a waveless sea in any net direction, including upwind, by extracting energy from the wind velocity gradient with cyclic zoom maneuvers. A dynamic soaring force is postulated to be represented by a wind-aligned vector providing energy gain during both upwind ascent and downwind descent in the wind profile. Maneuver angles are specified consistent with both a dynamic soaring rule and the desired net progress over the water. The equations of motion for coordinated maneuvering in the wind profile are derived and numerically integrated for a range of trajectories as perceived by the albatross, and also as perceived by a stationary observer.