Take a Ride With An Eagle From The Top of the Burj Khalifa

This is really spectacular, folks. About a minute. They set an eagle off from the top of the needle of The Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

It’s why I take glides myself.

One thing to take note of is how the Eagle pulls in his wings in order to increase airspeed in the final seconds, as he approaches the ground.


Wind gradient. In a gliding configuration (not under power; and birds typically glide into landing, only employing power in the last second…analogous to a flair in aircraft) as you get closer to the ground, wind speed decreases as a function of air friction on the surface. If your airspeed is just barely over stall and you are flying into the wind, you can find yourself under stall speed in an instant.

All in all, it’s a spectacular show.

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  1. Douglas on March 17, 2015 at 09:25

    Also of notice, the situational awareness of the birds as he goes down. Not only focused on his target landing but also checking and taking cues all around as he goes down. Nice.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 17, 2015 at 09:26

      Born to fly, literally.

      It’s the same thing when you watch us hang glider guys, from behind, on video. Always, always looking around. We’re looking for a whole bunch of cues.

  2. Half Navajo on March 18, 2015 at 01:26

    This shot is not through a normal camera lens… It’s filtered.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 18, 2015 at 08:12

      What’s a “normal camera lens?”

      They’ve been strapping cameras on eagles and hawks for years. Perhaps what you mean is the aperture, which is pinhole, just like the instamatic cameras of old. This is for depth of field, such that both the eagle and the landscape way off are in focus.

      On a lens with variable aperture, this is the setting with the infinity symbol, fully closed down to a pinhole so focus becomes rather irrelevant.

  3. Dave McCracken on March 18, 2015 at 04:57

    My favourite part is when the bird tucks into its stoop. Wow. It is also something to consider that the bird, from that height, is seeking out and identifying its handler.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 18, 2015 at 08:19

      Hey David. Always gives me a smile when you show up, after all these years.

      Anyway yea, the smart way of setting up a landing is always to pour on the speed near the ground (counter-intuitive). This makes it safer, wing more controllable, etc. At about 3:30 in this vid, I do the same. In hang gliders, you’re pulling the bar in for speed. And, you hear it, just like the eagle.


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