This seems straight out of a Terry Gilliam film. The guy flying with the two really big birds is Scott Mason, who uses them to detect thermal currents to fly his paraglider through the skies of Nepal. It’s called parahawking.
That is an Egyptian vulture, a Neophron percnopterus. Mason has been rescuing them since he was 11, and now he keeps doing that and trains them as his fly instruments. This is how it works: He carries one at take off. Once he is airborne, he frees the raptor, who starts looking for warm, ascending air currents.
Mason—who usually flies with another person, charging $147 per flight—steers the paraglider following the vulture for a while, enjoying the paths traced by the bird. Every now and then, he will use a whistle to call the vulture, who returns to him from behind the paraglider, landing on his arm like an F18 would land on an aircraft carrier.
Mason has other birds too. In fact, he rescues, nurtures, and then frees them into the wilderness as soon as they are in good shape.
This whale-like entry into KLM Indonesia’s aircraft design competition reminds me of the French «Manned Cloud» concept from a few years back. The WB-1010 would seat more than 1500 people, and use a combination of super-jet, helium, and wind power.
The concept’s designer, Reindy Allendra, imagines the aircraft being constructed from material similar to the giant Airbus A380‘s GLARE composite: Glass-Reinforced Fiber Metal Laminate made of thin layers of metal and glass fiber.
The WB-1010 would supplement its fuel use with the ability to harvest wind energy into electricity. An extractable robotic stand would also be used during the craft’s vertical landings.
Totally pie in the sky stuff, but very cool. Zoom in on the pic above for specifics. I wonder if United will actually have in-flight Wi-Fi on more than 13 planes 85 years from now? [Reindy Allendra via Yanko Design]