For many years I was an avid hang glider pilot, and one of my specialties in aerospace R&D is Guidance, Navigation and Control software development for precision-guided airdrop systems.
During many of my hang glider flights I had the opportunity to observe, from an unusual perspective, hawks in their native environment — the air. Flying wingtip to wingtip at the same airspeed, one gets a profound appreciation for these amazing creatures and their GN&C.
On a number of my hang glider flights, hawks came up close. They always seemed to be curious about me, flying my lumbering 32-foot-wingspan Dacron and aluminum aircraft. Up this close, I could observe the subtle adjustments they made in their primary feathers to compensate for the turbulence in the air, and they would glance furtively at me.
And they like to show off! I’ve seen this many times. On one occasion a redtail hawk who was flying with me folded his wings, went into a high-speed dive, performed several really amazing aerobatic maneuvers, and then pulled up and flew side by side with me again, moving his head and looking over at me as if to ask, “Can you do that?”
It is fascinating to watch birds land, especially in swaying tree branches in a gusty wind. Their GN&C is completely amazing.
Did all of this aerodynamic and control-system technology — which much integrate the visual system, tactile system, neurological system, muscular system, etcetera and etcetera — come about by random variation and natural selection? Please give me a break. I might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but I’m not that dull.
The real question is, What in biological systems can be explained by RV&NS? The obvious answer is, not very much at all.