I saw a large bird gliding around in San Jose the other day. It was too far away for me to see enough detail so I could remember details to try to identify the species later. I marveled at how his economical motions allowed him to glide apparently effortlessly between updrafts. In 20 minutes of watching the bird swoop around San Jose I don’t think I saw him do anything resembling a “flap” of his wings at all. It was all slight tilts and shifts as he glided around between updrafts. It looked like big, sun-drenched parking lots were the source of at least some of the updrafts he was riding.
It was remarkable to watch particularly with the striking contrast between the silent, economical flight of the bird and the loud, brute force flight of the airliners taking off and landing at San Jose International behind him. Humans have a lot of room to improve in the design of the things that carry them around.