Oddly enough, this column, written in 2009, has generated more talk around the water coolers than any other (as far as I know); and it has been repeated more than once; but you still ask for it again.
So, here we go!
Goose, gooses, goosi, geese, geeses, geesi, ganders, goslings; on and on go the familiar expressions of these uniquely different birds — nuisances in the minds of some people, weird in the minds of most. Who among us hasn’t heard their incessant “honking” as they fly?
Who among us hasn’t heard of the heroic efforts of Captain Sullenberger, whose aircraft was brought down in the Hudson River by a collision with Canadian Geese?
Everybody has an opinion – right or wrong; good or bad — of these creatures.
For the purposes of trying to make this less verbose, please allow me to use the masculine gender, instead of belaboring with “him/her” every time. Ok?
God created geese to teach mankind a lesson! Are you aware that such notable entities as NASA have made studies and taken high speed films of geese taking off and flying in that familiar “V” pattern?
Someone said, the reason geese fly in a “V” pattern is because it would be too difficult to fly in an “S” pattern; but that’s column fodder for another day.
Not being the biggest admirer of the way our Congress spends money; I have to ask, “Why are you studying the flight patterns of geese?”.
And I know the answer. You do too; if you will just think about it.
A “gaggle” of geese on the ground turns into a “skein” in flight; and the familiar “V” pattern is called a “wedge”; so, let us look at a skein of geese flying in a wedge and see what The Creator was thinking when He created them in that way to act in that manner.
The wedge formation is extremely necessary. The leader (no, I do not know how he is chosen – and I doubt our government will grant a grant to figure that out because that will bring them dangerously close to having to endorse “creationism”).
Anyway! The leader is chosen and the skein begins forming the wedge formation. Their wings are created with such precision that they can rotate them slightly to get more lift as they leave their footprints behind in the water; and majestically, they rise into the air.
The leader breaks the air resistance; and each one in succession flies slightly higher than the one in front of them, taking advantage of “lift”. The Air Force does this to save fuel; NASCAR drivers designed the draft for the same reason – but it all came from the Lord’s Creation of the “Skein Wedge”.
Here’s how NASA describes it in a dispatch release on October 29, 2001, titled FOLLOW THE LEADER AND SAVE FUEL. “A graceful vee of geese flying overhead is far more than an expression of natural aesthetics; the follower geese each derive energy from the flowfield generated by the next goose ahead in stepped formation. The result for the individual birds is a lower induced drag allowing a reduction in the energy required to maintain a given speed.
“The formation can fly farther before resting or use less energy per bird, than can geese flying solo. The airflow from the wingtips of an aircraft can provide energy, and thereby more efficient flight, to another aircraft flying in an optimum position behind the leader. Engineers and research pilots at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center are exploring wingtip vortex energy with a pair of F/A-18 jet fighters flying over California’s Mojave Desert. Central to the NASA Autonomous Formation Flight [AFF] program is a system of software and hardware still under development that will enable precise formations to be held without pilot inputs.
“The goal of the AFF project is to demonstrate a sustained 10 percent fuel savings by the trailing aircraft during cruise flight. Recent flight data suggests savings as high as 15 percent are achievable. If AFF can make close formation flights routine, the air traffic system capacity could be increased. The goal of 10 percent fuel savings by follower aircraft also means an attendant reduction in carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide compound emissions into the atmosphere. And, as aircraft computer systems get ever smarter, one way a follower aircraft might maintain optimum formation position is by letting the flight computers monitor fuel flow, repositioning the follower as needed to keep flow at a minimum.”
Say what? That’s governmenteese language; but did you know that each succeeding member of the Wedge has an equally equal field of vision because of their position in the skein; and they all have a collective lower heart rate in this massive undertaking of long distant flight.
Are you keeping up? God did all this, you know. Man is just now figuring it all out and it is still a work in progress – for man, not for God!
The leader is doing considerably more work than the rest of the skein; so, he will retire to the rear echelon as if on cue; and as if on cue, a member moves up to take his place as the leader (you see, term limits work; and everybody is far better off).
The squawking that always catches our attention from the ground is done for a very distinct purpose – to encourage the leader! Haven’t we finally learned that a little encouragement goes a long way? God knew that way back in His Creation.
The following is amazing; and cannot be explained by gazillions of government studies! If a member of the skein gets hurt or something happens to him; he will drop out of the skein to land; and the wedge flies onward. But wait, what’s happening with that injured goose. As if on cue, and depending on the extent of the injury, one or two members of the skein will leave the wedge and land with the injured bird. They will stay there on nursing/companion duty as a small gaggle until he dies or is well enough to resume flight; and then form a new skein wedge or join one passing by.
Did the Creator God know what He was doing or what? Do you really believe they just somehow figured all this out on their own? Get real!
Tom Mooty serves as the “Medicare Minister” to Newport’s West End Baptist Church; and writes this column for the Thursday and Weekend Editions of the “Newport Plain Talk”. Address all comments to Mooty at P.O. Box 851; call him at 423-623-9056 (Ext 2); or e-mail him at email@example.com.