I have oft looked skyward and wished that I could fly like a bird, to have full freedom to the three dimensional world without the encumberance of some contraption around me. Now, I am no professional bird watcher, but I have made the following observations.
I have noticed how the majority of birds fly in straight lines, using branches or whatever is available to briefly stop before changing direction. There are notable exceptions in the Swallow, Swift and House Martin. They can turn in flight, but the turning ability is restricted by the speed of flight. They appear to be more manoeuvrable than they are. Eagles and hawks can turn in flight, but the arc is wide. Even during a hover, if they want to change position, they fly a wide arc to get there. When attacking, they are fast and can ‘roll’ to make in flight adjustments in direction, but they are limited changes, and they rely almost totally on speed, accurate distance assessment, and surprise to catch their prey.
Enter the gulls. The wing has very low drag characteristics, with good lift qualities. They can hover in almost zero wind without flapping constantly, they can rotate in a hover, make very tight turns in flight, roll into a dive very quickly, and pull up from a dive that for most birds would be their last. All of this is done effortlessly, with very little adjustment of the wing structure or feathers required.
Having caught a fish in the water, very often almost the same size as themselves, they fly at relatively low level towards the base of the cliff, then 'rotate' very sharply using the up draught of air on the surface of the cliff face to give them a push to their nesting sites. Gulls, and seabirds are among the most skilled fliers, if not the most skilled, it seems to me.
However, for all of their abilities, there is one thing that they can’t do, other than perch in trees. Their wing structure almost makes them the ‘helicopter’ of the bird world, and if there is one thing that a helicopter can’t do, it is to fly really fast. Read the book that is listed in my profile. I can't say as much as I want here because of space limitations, but I would like to draw your attention to a book that could very well change your outlook on life as you have lived it.
You see, a man/woman must know his/her limitations if the ultimate goal is to be reached. The $64000 dollar question is this. Where is the line really drawn? The only way to find out is to approach it. OK, still feeling safe? You should be because you are still within your self-imposed safety zone. If you think you are on the line, stop for a second. Now take another step. If you are still with me, you have a problem in that the $64000 question still exists. Where is the line really drawn?