Get Ready to Soar

Oct 16, 2020
 

LEADER'S FIELD GUIDE

What do eagles teach about adjustment, the effortless, and the proven? What do birds have to do with planes, controversy, and the United States seal?


In 1903, the Wright brothers were credited with the first repeatable flight of an aircraft. By definition, an airplane must be heavier than air, manned and powered, take off and land under its own power, and controllable along all three axes (more on that later).1 Have you ever wondered how planes fly? I really never understood the concept of lift, until I held an 8x11 inch piece of paper up to my bottom lip and blew over the top. WHAT?! The paper floats upward? 

Yes, the same principle that elevates the paper also allows a plane to fly. The Wright brothers “observed that birds angled their wings for balance and control, and tried to emulate this…”2 It was the study and imitation of the birds’ wing that allowed the first controlled flight. When I think of birds, I can’t help but consider the majesty of the eagle.

What else can we learn from the eagle’s flight?

  1. Adjust the Minor: During flight, eagles control rotation on three axes: rolling clockwise or counterclockwise, pitching up or down, and yawing left or right. The Wright brothers mimicked tail feathers by adding a rear rudder preventing yaw (or a flat spin out of control). What keeps you flying straight-- that you can simply reimplement?
  2. Practice the Effortless: Eagles ride updrafts to altitudes over 10,000 feet and “can see another eagle soaring nearly 50 miles away.”4 Eagles soar up and glide down repeatedly using very little energy to hunt for prey or steal another’s prey (more on that later). Consider your own hunting ground. What can you do more of-- that is already easy?
  3. Trust the Proof: Eagles don’t consult instrument panels or air current maps before flight. Eagles don’t assess their feathers or wonder if the physics of lift still hold. They simply spread their wings, up to a span of 8 feet, and dive out of trees or from rocky cliffs!4 What proof do you waste time getting-- that you already have?

The concept of lift still amazes me, especially when you consider the average empty passenger plane weighs about 90,000 pounds and a fully-loaded plane (including fuel, passengers, and luggage) weighs about double that.4 Though Benjamin Franklin did question the moral character of the eagle, which he describes as “perched on some dead tree near the river…too lazy to fish for himself,” eagles continue to demonstrate the value of making minor adjustments, magnifying the effortless, and leveraging the proven.5 What would help you fly straight? What’s rewarding and easy? And, in what can you just believe is true?

Trivia Questions: Do you know which fowl Benjamin Franklin thought was “a much more respectable Bird” for the United States’ emblem? Do you know which state stripped the Wright brothers of their “first flight” status? 

Sources: 1History.com: Wright Brothers Video (2m:21s); 2History.com: Wright Brothers; 3Journey North: Bald Eagle Characteristics; 4Travel on the Fly; 5Smithsonian Magazine: American Myths: Benjamin Franklin’s Turkey and the Presidential Seal.


by Michelle Sugerman • Leading Synergies, LLC • © All Rights Reserved

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