It seems surprising that information regarding how bird’s handle flight is just now coming to light, after exactly 100 years of commercial flights. [Happy 100 year Anniversary, planes!]
As it turns out, there is a lot to learn from the feathered fliers in this field. Most people have felt the undesired jolt of turbulence; the worst of it coming from pockets of warm air. Despite the fact that planes tend to stay in the air, often unaffected by the scary shaking associated with turbulence, engineers have some improvements to make if bird-like unaffected conditions want to be met.
The key is this: a wing tuck.
A study done by Researchers at Oxford University attaching a 75g black box-like device to a handsome eagle named Cossack showed scientists that Cossack’s main line of defence against bumpy air was a simple tucking of the wings. Cossack’s wing tuck sent him into a momentary free fall resembling a normal wing-flap without the usual upstroke of the wings.
While it is currently unlikely that engineers will rebuild commercial planes with foldable wings [and even more unlikely that anyone in their sane mind would board such a plane], this new understanding of how to withstand turbulent conditions will likely be applied to new small flying machines and drones.
Thank you Cossack, and birds everywhere, for continuing to teach us a thing or two about proper aviation methods.