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High Velocity Falcon

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This is the Peregrine Falcon, one of nature's boldest predators. For thousands of years humans have admired his powerful wings and fiery spirit. But one quality above all sets this bird of prey apart. When it comes to raw speed, no creature on earth can match it. Commercial pilot Ken Franklin raises and studies falcons to see how they live and how they move. What characterizes a Peregrine Falcon is its pure ability to hunt at high speed and over open air space. The more that I was involved in flight with birds and started seeing their speed the more I wanted to...I really was driven just to be basically on wing with them. But experts can't agree on the Peregrine's top speed. To answer that question Ken assembles a team of specialists and a very special falcon named Frightful. He'll test her speed with a lead-weighted lure that he'll release as he dives with her. A tiny computer like those used by skydivers is slipped onto feather shafts just under Frightful's tail coverts. Ken is confident it won't affect her performance. The cessna strains in the thin air at 15,000 feet. Although wild falcons may reach this altitude this is the highest Frightful has ever been in her life. Frightful is released. At 12,000 feet she goes into a dive. After 10 seconds she's going 120 miles per hour. Ken releases the lure. Twenty one seconds. Frightful shifts into hyper-drive. That's what Ken's been looking for. She shifts her shape to slip through the air's molecules. Forty-three seconds: she catches the lure pulls out of her dive at 3,000 feet and heads home. Moments later Ken's chute snaps open. It looks like a perfect flight. The verdict is in. Frightful has broken her own record and Ken still doesn't know how much faster she can go. One hundred and eighty three miles an hour! Aerodynamically they are incredible contortionists. This is like karate in the air: what they do to hyper-streamline and then when they achieve high speeds how they hold it blew us away. One week later Frightful was clocked at an astonishing two hundred and forty two miles an hour.

Video Details

Duration: 2 minutes and 59 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: National Geographic
Views: 158
Posted by: englishonthenet on Jan 18, 2010

How fast can a peregrine falcon fly? One scientist aims to find out by skydiving along with the birds.

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