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Humanoid flight

Discussion in 'World Building' started by caters, Dec 14, 2016.

  1. caters

    caters Sage

    I want to stay within a reasonable size range per age for my humanoids and for gravity the same as earth's, the most reasonable size range is the human size range.

    I found out on Stack Exchange that flying at a supersonic speed without some form of air compression(namely turbofans) is impossible.

    But they also said that with normal human parameters(weight of 120 lbs, height of 5 feet, normal arm and leg length) and an arm winspan of 5 feet(2 feet per arm + 1 foot for the body) and a leg wingspan of 7 feet(3 feet per leg + 1 foot for the body and assuming that the flaps are synchronized and the arms are flapped twice per second and legs flapped once per second that the humanoid will be 6 times too heavy to fly, much less fly super fast at the same atmospheric density as Earth.

    But doesn't atmospheric density depend on gravity as well as composition? I mean sure their atmosphere is more like 30% oxygen than 27% oxygen but I don't think that is enough of a change in composition to make flight possible.

    But I don't want them too big or the Square Cube Law will make normal life impossible without changing bone size and/or composition. And I don't want them too small or they might as well not be humanoids.

    I am not sure how well hollow bones will work. I mean for one thing, if there was less compact bone, it would probably be replaced by bone marrow. Plus, if the bones were hollowed out, fractures would be much more of a concern as would osteoporosis in pregnancy.

    Basically I don't know what to change in order to make my humanoids able to fly because every change I can think of has its own negatives as well as improving flight chance.
  2. Vaporo

    Vaporo Inkling

    Ok, I just did some looking, and apparently the largest known flying bird was Argentavis magnificens, which is estimated to have weighed roughly as much as an adult human. The Wikipedia article estimates its wing area to have been 8 m^2 with a wing loading of 8.5 kg/m^2. The same article estimates the absolute maximum wing loading for a bird is 25 kg/m^2. If you want to make scientifically accurate winged humans, this is probably a good start.

    Size comparison of a human and Argentavis magnificens:
  3. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

    Could be the humanoids are a bit smaller, and their bones, while hollow, are carbon fiber, so considerably stronger. Given that I am not an aerospace engineer, I am not sure how this could affect the actual flight of humans. Perhaps, assuming magic is present, you might consider a bit of magical assistance to actually fly.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  4. I have a race of winged humanoid in one of my WIP's and I'm handwaving the physics. Completely. Mine have both arms and wings, which would make the muscular structure needed impossible. Buuuuuuut, I don't really care. I like my winged humanoids.

    So, I'm no help in the realm of making this realistic.
    Reaver likes this.
  5. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    Same. Some of my vampires become winged when exposed to sunlight, and said wings grow stronger every time the vampire in question drinks human blood. Once their wings are fully developed they can fly. I'm fudging the physics with magic, since it's due to a goddess' curse that vampires even exist in the first place.
  6. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    The physics of the energy required aside.... At the speed of sound things get incredibly hot. Your fliers are likely to burst in to flames or melt.
  7. cydare

    cydare Minstrel

    The more details you put in regarding the physics and biology which might make humanoid flight possible, the more readers are likely to nit-pick at your work and find mistakes in your theories. This isn't to discourage you from research - I like stories that are ground in some form of reality, but there's no point in delving into extremes and getting every bit right.

    My suggestion is to pick and choose what sciencey parts you yourself like and want to include, and fudge over the rest with magic or a dash of 'just how it is'. Don't worry too much about the little pieces that don't quite fit in. As long as you've got the basics, what's important is the story.
    Russ likes this.
  8. johnsonjoshuak

    johnsonjoshuak Troubadour

    The great thing about Fantasy: Magic. I've strongly considered a winged species of humanoids in several of my works, but I end up cutting them for one reason or another. But knowing that it would be physically impossible, I fail back on Magic.
    TheKillerBs likes this.
  9. psychotick

    psychotick Auror


    You might want to read Poul Anderson's People of the Wind. The Ythri might give you some insights into winged humanoids.

    Cheers, Greg.
  10. I usually don't care one bit about physics. My explanation for anything crazy that happens is either 'A wizard did it' or 'Magic happened'. :p
    A lot of my characters have wings of some kind, come to think of it, both physical or spiritual wings. I am also partial to winged kitties. :D
  11. There's a book series called Catwings about just that.
  12. ^I have the first Catwing book.
  13. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    I think I need these books. Where are they. XD
  14. ^I'm not sure where my mum got them. You might be able to find them on Amazon. There's many wings, kittens, and winged kittens in my books. :cool:
    Ireth likes this.
  15. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    Last edited: Dec 21, 2016

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