Friday, November 30, 2007

Ground effect

I had been running around the lake this evening, finally trying my legs at getting back to running form after a break due to a shin injury, the place where I run is the very scenic and much polluted Kukkarahalli Lake. Although most of the disposal from the university finally finds its way to the lake, it still manages to house a lot of fishes, snakes and also the odd croc to catch you off guard and give you something to run about. But during some times of the year, it also becomes a home to some of the birds migrating for the winter and that, takes the beauty of the lake to a whole new level, especially during sunset.
It was once such lovely sunset this evening, the sun returning home from his duties on this side of the planet, when a familiar sight struck a huge bell in me and made me marvel at nature and its intricate designs. There was a bird (I beg pardon from all the ornithologists and ornithology enthusiasts who might possible read this) which looked like a swan, with a wingspan of nearly five feet by the look of it. Having mastered the dynamics of flight during its infancy, it was out to optimize on its skills, you know, cost-benefit, maximum gains for minimum loss of energy. It had a trick up its sleeve, it is called ground effect, it was something the soviets tried and succeeded in, although they built only a prototype before the project was scrapped due to lack of funding, they did however show the world how to utilize a major aerodynamic effect.
The bird, with its huge wingspan, flying just above the water surface, on the buffer of air underneath its body, between the water and itself, which its aerodynamic shape created and was skating on top of the water, inches above it, and what more, it was flying, I mean to say flapping its wings (as opposed to gliding, in which you don’t flap your wings) and the wing tips never even touched the water, they were cushioned, quite wonderfully on the layer of air just above the water, and it was a majestic sight, the proximity, the speed, the agility, one wrong move and you’ll have the worst accident of your flock, but the bird was making light work of it and indeed putting on a show.
Within seconds the bird disappeared and great speed, and I was on my way back again regretting that I never seem to have my camera with me when for such great moments!