I got asked this question for my physics course at college, i'm not the best at airspeed velocities...

What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

I still can't find anything to help me, i'm quite stuck and have been googling and asking about on a few forums.

Best help I found was this page on the subject.

Thank you.


closed as off-topic by Danu, Kyle Kanos, ACuriousMind, John Rennie, Kyle Oman Aug 6 '14 at 16:44

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    $\begingroup$ ....was the question serious? $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Aug 6 '14 at 15:19
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    $\begingroup$ I thought so, I haven't watch that movie so I wouldn't know. Would African or European types of swallows make a difference overall? or could they still achieve the same velocity? $\endgroup$ – Zac Grierson Aug 6 '14 at 15:21
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    $\begingroup$ Well that scene is the only portion in which the question is relevant in the movie. I am not an ornithologist, so have no idea about the difference between the birds. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Aug 6 '14 at 15:24
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    $\begingroup$ This question appears to be a joke rather than a physics question, making it off-topic. Sorry! $\endgroup$ – Danu Aug 6 '14 at 15:47
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    $\begingroup$ Just say it's $1ussu$ (that's unladen swallow speed unit) $\endgroup$ – Jim Aug 6 '14 at 15:50

According to the RSB:

Migrating (European) swallows cover 200 miles a day, mainly during daylight, at speeds of 17-22 miles per hour. The maximum flight speed is 35 mph

I think that calculating the flight speed of a bird from first principles would be impossibly difficult as there are just too many variables. The web site you link does get an answer that agrees with the RSPB, but one has to wonder if they knew the answer in advance, and in any case they do a lot of the work by comparing with other birds rather than by ab initio calculation.


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