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The distance A to B is the wingspan of this Boeing 777-200ER Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 777-200ER (HZ-AKC) departs London Heathrow 15Aug2008 arp.jpg
The distance A to B is the wingspan of this Boeing 777-200ER

The wingspan (or just span) of a bird or an airplane is the distance from one wingtip to the other wingtip. For example, the Boeing 777-200 has a wingspan of 60.93 metres (199 ft 11 in), [1] and a wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) caught in 1965 had a wingspan of 3.63 metres (11 ft 11 in), the official record for a living bird. The term wingspan, more technically extent, is also used for other winged animals such as pterosaurs, bats, insects, etc., and other aircraft such as ornithopters. In humans, the term wingspan also refers to the arm span, which is distance between the length from one end of an individual's arms (measured at the fingertips) to the other when raised parallel to the ground at shoulder height at a 90º angle. Former professional basketball player Manute Bol stands at 7 ft 7 in (2.31 m) and owns one of the largest wingspans at 8 ft 6 in (2.59 m).


Wingspan of aircraft

The wingspan of an aircraft is always measured in a straight line, from wingtip to wingtip, independently of wing shape or sweep.

Implications for aircraft design and animal evolution

The lift from wings is proportional to their area, so the heavier the animal or aircraft the bigger that area must be. The area is the product of the span times the width (mean chord) of the wing, so either a long, narrow wing or a shorter, broader wing will support the same mass. For efficient steady flight, the ratio of span to chord, the aspect ratio, should be as high as possible (the constraints are usually structural) because this lowers the lift-induced drag associated with the inevitable wingtip vortices. Long-ranging birds, like albatrosses, and most commercial aircraft maximize aspect ratio. Alternatively, animals and aircraft which depend on maneuverability (fighters, predators and the preyed upon, and those who live amongst trees and bushes, insect catchers, etc.) need to be able to roll fast to turn, and the high moment of inertia of long narrow wings, as well as the high angular drag and quick balancing of aileron lift with wing lift at a low rotation rate, produces lower roll rates. For them, short-span, broad wings are preferred. Additionally, ground handling in aircraft is a significant problem for very high aspect ratios and flying animals may encounter similar issues.

The highest aspect ratio man-made wings are aircraft propellers, in their most extreme form as helicopter rotors.

Wingspan of flying animals

To measure the wingspan of a bird, a live or freshly-dead specimen is placed flat on its back, the wings are grasped at the wrist joints, ankles and the distance is measured between the tips of the longest primary feathers on each wing.[ clarification needed ]

The wingspan of an insect refers to the wingspan of pinned specimens, and may refer to the distance between the centre of the thorax to the apex of the wing doubled or to the width between the apices with the wings set with the trailing wing edge perpendicular to the body.

Wingspan in sports

In basketball and gridiron football, a fingertip-to-fingertip measurement is used to determine the player's wingspan, also called armspan. This is called reach in boxing terminology. The wingspan of 16-year-old BeeJay Anya, a top basketball Junior Class of 2013 prospect who played for the NC State Wolfpack, was officially measured at 7 feet 9 inches (2.36 m) across, one of the longest of all National Basketball Association draft prospects, and the longest ever for a non-7-foot player, though Anya went undrafted in 2017. [2] The wingspan of Manute Bol, at 8 feet 6 inches (2.59 m), is (as of 2013) the longest in NBA history, and his vertical reach was 10 feet 5 inches (3.18 m). [3] [4]

Wingspan records

Largest wingspan

Smallest wingspan

Related Research Articles

Wing Surface used for flight, for example by insects, birds, bats and airplanes

A wing is a type of fin that produces lift, while moving through air or some other fluid. As such, wings have streamlined cross-sections that are subject to aerodynamic forces and act as airfoils. A wing's aerodynamic efficiency is expressed as its lift-to-drag ratio. The lift a wing generates at a given speed and angle of attack can be one to two orders of magnitude greater than the total drag on the wing. A high lift-to-drag ratio requires a significantly smaller thrust to propel the wings through the air at sufficient lift.

Chord (aeronautics) imaginary straight line joining the leading and trailing edges of an aerofoil

In aeronautics, a chord is the imaginary straight line joining the leading edge and trailing edge of an aerofoil. The chord length is the distance between the trailing edge and the point where the chord intersects the leading edge. The point on the leading edge used to define the chord may be either the surface point of minimum radius or the surface point that maximizes chord length.

Condor name for two species of vultures

Condor is the common name for two species of New World vultures, each in a monotypic genus. The name derives from the Quechua kuntur. They are the largest flying land birds in the Western Hemisphere.

Flight Process by which an object moves, through an atmosphere or beyond it

Flight is the process by which an object moves through an atmosphere without contact with the surface. This can be achieved by generating aerodynamic lift associated with propulsive thrust, aerostatically using buoyancy, or by ballistic movement.

Wandering albatross species of bird

The wandering albatross, snowy albatross, white-winged albatross or goonie is a large seabird from the family Diomedeidae, which has a circumpolar range in the Southern Ocean. It was the last species of albatross to be described, and was long considered the same species as the Tristan albatross and the Antipodean albatross. A few authors still consider them all subspecies of the same species. The SACC has a proposal on the table to split this species, and BirdLife International has already split it. Together with the Amsterdam albatross, it forms the wandering albatross species complex. The wandering albatross is one of the two largest members of the genus Diomedea, being similar in size to the southern royal albatross. It is one of the largest, best known, and most studied species of bird in the world, with it possessing the greatest known wingspan of any living bird. This is also one of the most far ranging birds. Some individual wandering albatrosses are known to circumnavigate the Southern Ocean three times, covering more than 120,000 km (75,000 mi), in one year.

Aspect ratio (aeronautics) ratio of an aircrafts wing span to its mean chord

In aeronautics, the aspect ratio of a wing is the ratio of its span to its mean chord. It is equal to the square of the wingspan divided by the wing area. Thus, a long, narrow wing has a high aspect ratio, whereas a short, wide wing has a low aspect ratio.

Manute Bol Sudanese-American basketball player

Manute Bol was a Sudanese-born American basketball player and political activist. Listed at 7 ft 7 in (2.31 m) tall, Bol was one of the tallest players in the history of the National Basketball Association.

In aerodynamics, lift-induced drag, induced drag, vortex drag, or sometimes drag due to lift, is an aerodynamic drag force that occurs whenever a moving object redirects the airflow coming at it. This drag force occurs in airplanes due to wings or a lifting body redirecting air to cause lift and also in cars with airfoil wings that redirect air to cause a downforce.

Wingtip device aircraft component fixed to the end of the wings to improve performance

Wingtip devices are intended to improve the efficiency of fixed-wing aircraft by reducing drag. Although there are several types of wing tip devices which function in different manners, their intended effect is always to reduce an aircraft's drag by partial recovery of the tip vortex energy. Wingtip devices can also improve aircraft handling characteristics and enhance safety for following aircraft. Such devices increase the effective aspect ratio of a wing without greatly increasing the wingspan. Extending the span would lower lift-induced drag, but would increase parasitic drag and would require boosting the strength and weight of the wing. At some point, there is no net benefit from further increased span. There may also be operational considerations that limit the allowable wingspan.

Ornithopter aircraft which use flapping movement of the wings to generate lift.            Holi

An ornithopter is an aircraft that flies by flapping its wings. Designers seek to imitate the flapping-wing flight of birds, bats, and insects. Though machines may differ in form, they are usually built on the same scale as these flying creatures. Manned ornithopters have also been built, and some have been successful. The machines are of two general types: those with engines, and those powered by the muscles of the pilot.

<i>Argentavis</i> Extinct genus of very large birds

Argentavis magnificens was among the largest flying birds ever to exist, quite possibly surpassed in wingspan only by Pelagornis sandersi, which was described in 2014. A. magnificens, sometimes called the Giant Teratorn, is an extinct species known from three sites in the Epecuén and Andalhualá Formations in central and northwestern Argentina dating to the Late Miocene (Huayquerian), where a good sample of fossils has been obtained.

Wingtip vortices

Wingtip vortices are circular patterns of rotating air left behind a wing as it generates lift. One wingtip vortex trails from the tip of each wing. Wingtip vortices are sometimes named trailing or lift-induced vortices because they also occur at points other than at the wing tips. Indeed, vorticity is trailed at any point on the wing where the lift varies span-wise ; it eventually rolls up into large vortices near the wingtip, at the edge of flap devices, or at other abrupt changes in wing planform.

Bird flight mode of locomotion used by bird species (assists birds while feeding, breeding, avoiding predators, and migrating)

Bird flight is the primary mode of locomotion used by most bird species in which birds take off and fly. Flight assists birds with feeding, breeding, avoiding predators, and migrating.

Teratornithidae Extinct family of birds

Teratornithidae is an extinct family of very large birds of prey that lived in North and South America from the Late Oligocene to Late Pleistocene. They include some of the largest known flying birds.

Flying and gliding animals Animals that have evolved aerial locomotion

A number of animals have evolved aerial locomotion, either by powered flight or by gliding. Flying and gliding animals have evolved separately many times, without any single ancestor. Flight has evolved at least four times, in the insects, pterosaurs, birds, and bats. Gliding has evolved on many more occasions. Usually the development is to aid canopy animals in getting from tree to tree, although there are other possibilities. Gliding, in particular, has evolved among rainforest animals, especially in the rainforests in Asia where the trees are tall and widely spaced. Several species of aquatic animals, and a few amphibians and reptiles have also evolved to acquire this gliding flight ability, typically as a means of evading predators.

Gliding flight is heavier-than-air flight without the use of thrust; the term volplaning also refers to this mode of flight in animals. It is employed by gliding animals and by aircraft such as gliders. This mode of flight involves flying a significant distance horizontally compared to its descent and therefore can be distinguished from a mostly straight downward descent like with a round parachute.

Bowlus BS-100 Super Albatross

The Bowlus BS-100 Super Albatross is a single seat, mid-wing glider that was designed by Hawley Bowlus in 1938.

<i>Pelagornis sandersi</i> Extinct species of bird

Pelagornis sandersi is an extinct species of flying bird, whose fossil remains date from 25 million years ago, during the Chattian age of the Oligocene. The sole specimen of P. sandersi has a wingspan estimated between 6.1 and 7.4 m, giving it the largest wingspan of any flying bird yet discovered, twice that of the wandering albatross, which has the largest wingspan of any extant flying bird.

Bat flight

Bats are the only mammal capable of true flight. Bats use flight for capturing prey, breeding, avoiding predators, and long-distance migration. Bat wing morphology is often highly specialized to the needs of the species.


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