Wing morphing of the swift

A swift adapts the shape of its wings to the immediate task at hand: folding them back to chase insects, or stretching them out to sleep in flight. Research has shown how 'wing morphing' makes swifts such versatile flyers and it proves that swifts can improve flight performance by up to three-fold, numbers that make 'wing morphing' the next big thing in aircraft engineering.

Swift can triple their efficiency by turning with their wings stretched out. When chasing rivals and flying insects, swifts also want to make their turns fast and tight. However, in fast and diving turns, the load on the wings easily reaches more than four times the swift's body weight. So in extreme turns, swifts need to sweep back their wings or else risk breaking them.

Scientists compared extended and swept wings, and learnt that flying slowly with extended wings gives swifts maximum flight efficiency. But swept wings deliver a better aerodynamic performance for flying fast and straight. Swept wings are also better for fast and tight turns; but this time swept wings are better because they do not break as easily as extended wings.

Source: sciencedaily.comAdded: 16 May 2007