Alan takes to the skies with Paul MacCready's flying circus.
Paul MacCready, aviation
engineer extraordinaire. This record-breaking, prize-winning
airplane designer is a life-long lover of all things that
fly. An avid birder since his boyhood, MacCready has long
looked to nature for inspiration. From operating model planes
from the ground, to piloting sailplanes, to pioneering human
powered flight, MacCready's designs borrow heavily from birds,
bats and bugs.
"Is It a Bird?," Alan joins MacCready and his colleague Bob
Hoey as they test out their latest design. While watching
real birds in action, Hoey suspected the large feathers at
the wing's tip helped the birds turn without losing speed.
By incorporating "feathers" like these into his own design,
Hoey met his own challenge- to build a glider that soars and
turns as well as a real bird.
Hoey designed his glider to mimic actual bird wings.
and experimentation- it's a perfect example of the way MacCready
works. Watching birds in the 1970's MacCready learned that
large and light was the way to go. This lesson served him
well in 1977, when he built the first successful human powered
airplane - the Gossamer Condor - for which he also won a $95,000
prize. Today, at the age of 75, MacCready still watches the
skies for inspiration.
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