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When it comes to maneuverability, modern flying machines pale in comparison to an everyday pigeon. Birds can flap their wings to swoop, dive, glide, and alight on perches. Fixed-wing airplanes and rotary-wing helicopters rarely show that dynamism. In recent years, though, scientists have started finding ways to mimic the mechanics of bird flight through various robotic ornithopters, aircraft that fly with flapping wings. Aircraft based on today’s lab experiments could soon find use in military or search-and-rescue missions.
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