Those Wings! Those Wonderfully Marvelous Wings!

How many of us can remember lying on a sun-drenched hillside as a child and staring up into a crystal blue sky, enraptured in the experience of watching a bird glide through the heavens? Children have done that very thing throughout the ages. Whether it was a dove or an eagle, it was enjoying a freedom of which we could only dream. It was flying!

Dayton’s own Orville and Wilbur Wright conquered the physics necessary to lift man in powered flight, things like lift and drag. They designed the devices necessary to find the required balance, like the airfoil and wing-warping. Then, just 109 years ago, they creatively put thousands of pieces together to produce the first, practical, heavier-than-air flying machine so man could finally fly! It was pure genius. Although their design has been improved and updated for decades upon decades, one truth remains: for man to fly we need a machine. It could be a hang glider or a C-17, but we must have a machine to accomplish what a bird does by simply stretching out its limbs. Where we find arms, they have wings, wonderfully marvelous wings.

Just 7 weeks ago the eaglet in the picture above was a small, featherless hatchling. Now it has a wingspan of nearly 6 feet! What was soft white fluff morphed into gray fuzz which quickly was punctured by a myriad of tiny feathers. Those tiny feathers grow larger and fuller every day as the wings that they sprout from grow stronger and stronger. Internally, the flexible, hollow bones, the complicated muscular and nervous systems continue to develop. Before our eyes that awkward, lanky eaglet is becoming like its parent in the other photo. In 19 more days it will be fully feathered and capable of launching itself into the air. Its wings will not have the well-defined trailing edge that the adult eagles display. Some of the feathers will appear too long or out-of-place, but like the white head and tail that will develop in 4 or 5 years, the wings will constantly change until they take on the majestic form of an adult Bald Eagle.

It is those beautiful wings with their massive surface area that allows the eagle to soar so effortlessly across the sky. The leading edge of the wing is designed to be the airfoil necessary to create lift. They can manipulate individual feathers to best use each thermal they encounter. Each fiber of each feather features tiny barbs that can lock it onto the neighboring feather to create a solid surface and yet can twist to vent the air or serve as an aileron to allow the bird to drop or bank. Beautifully complex, eloquently simple, remarkably efficient, perfection in every way.

Make the time to join a child on some sun-drenched hillside and allow yourself the pleasure, the privilege, of watching a bird play in the sky. Be it a dove or an eagle, it is all because of the design and The Designer of those wonderfully marvelous wings!

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Published in: on May 22, 2012 at 3:42 pm  Comments (6)  

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Beautiful commentary Jim, very eloquent.

  2. Wonderfully said Jim

  3. Thank you for the pictures and info. My husband and I have really enjoyed them.

  4. Thank you Carlene. They are inspiration personified, simply amazing!

  5. You are welcome Marilyn. It such a thrill to watch them in the wild. Everything they do seems to highlight their determination, strength and gracefulness. It is a privelege to be able to share a bit of that joy with others.

  6. Thank you sir. As you know, they are wonderful in so many ways.


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