Eagle flies from a balloon

This is the closest I, at least, will ever come to know what it’s like to be a bird. Apparently someone strapped a camera to a trained eagle and released it from a balloon. I find the video amazing—especially the landing, where the bird comes in at high speed and rapidly decelerates. It’s like a jet landing on an aircraft carrier.

Eagle flies from balloon with camera on his back above Barneveld and Harselaar for 6 minutes.

h/t: Matthew (who warns that the wind sound is “v. annoying”)


    • Posted February 24, 2018 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      Flying eagle point of view #4 by Sony Action Cam Mini (A flight over Paris)

      Published on 30 Sep 2014

    • Posted February 24, 2018 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      Flying eagle point of view #6 (Dune Soaring in Dubai)

      Published on 28 Feb 2015

      On March 14th, Freedom Conservation will undertake a challenge to set a new world record. Freedom’s ‘Victor the Eagle’ will fly from the top of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa (829.8 m), in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

  1. Posted February 24, 2018 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    That was breathbtaking! I’ve been skydiving a few times and was really interesting to hear the same rushing roar of air whilst he was gliding!

    • Mike
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      Took me back 50+ yrs when i used to do the same thing, and the rush of the ground on landing.lol

  2. ploubere
    Posted February 24, 2018 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    I used to occasionally have dreams in which I could fly, always exhilarating. I envy the birds, but probably wouldn’t trade in my opposable-thumb hands for wings.

  3. Posted February 24, 2018 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Having the earth underneath you, over which you glide freely wherever you want to go – that must be a feeling.

  4. Don Mackay
    Posted February 24, 2018 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    I would imagine that what the eagle sees is rather different from the camera’s view of the countryside. The camera would miss the rabbits and chookies that those magnificent eagle eyes would spot. With only a camera we would go hungry; not the eagle.

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 24, 2018 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    The closest a human gets to this is flying in an altralight or small airplane such as a J3. This would also approximate the speed and altitude the eagle is doing. It is flying low and slow — something you don’t normally want to do in an airplane.

  6. Michael Fisher
    Posted February 24, 2018 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    20km northwest of Arnhem [WWII Operation Market-Garden. “Bridge Too Far”]

    0:00 Eagle [E] released at around 3,000 ft

    E busy losing height & looking for the landing field [LF] – eager to get reward

    Very little wind – what there is seems to be coming from the west where the sun is setting. This might be standard wind direction in the evenings judging by the farm windbreaks

    2:07 The LF is below the balloon – it’s the divided light green/dark green field below the letter “v”. E is heading for it at this point. Does an S manoeuvre to lose more height

    2:50 back on course for the LF

    3:12 does a clockwise 720 over the tarmac car park – to lose height [no thermals there at dusk]

    3:50 back on track for the LF

    4:04 E spots H ahead & flaps his wings twice with excitement. I assume H has begun his walk into the field from near the white van [parked on the grass just under the second “e” in “Devalkroofvogels” – top left of screen].

    4:30 H becomes visible walking to the right into the field

    5:00 E is directly over H – goes onwards to the roundabout. To lose height he does a clockwise 360 & then an anticlockwise 180. I *Think* E is deliberately aligning itself to fly out of the sun for best visibility on the target & good stealth

    5:35 A straight landing approach on H out of the sun who is above the “s” at this point

    5:59 We see the shadow of E on the grass with undercarriage extended

    H’s arm is extended at head height on the horizon so E is 5′ above the ground here
    E deploys flaps & drops below arm height & then swoops up – all to bleed forward speed

    E talons the glove

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted February 24, 2018 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      Google Maps: THE LANDING POINT

    • rickflick
      Posted February 24, 2018 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      “I *Think* E is deliberately aligning itself to fly out of the sun for best visibility on the target & good stealth”

      I thought he might be going for an upwind landing for better control.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted February 24, 2018 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

        But the wind is from the west – out of the sun. E’s approach is downwind. Wind is only around walking pace.

        • rickflick
          Posted February 24, 2018 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

          As a pilot myself, wind direction is the first parameter. But, for the Eagle, I suppose it could have been glare he was avoiding. I wonder, though, if the wind was really ripping at, say 15 mph,…

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted February 24, 2018 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

            I have notice birds nearly always land into the wind as all pilots know is the only way to go but if the wind is very light they might land any direction. Eagles love lots of wind and there are no student pilots out there.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted February 24, 2018 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

            The balloon would not have launched over 8-10 knots wind absolute max 🙂

            I flew my first solo at 15 in 1970 in an open cockpit T.21B Slingsby ‘Sedbergh’ TX Mk.1. RAF Cosford. Loved the landings because one could pull the spoilers out & sideslip in at a crazy rate of altitude loss [& can’t see the target]. You could feel it like a lift accelerating down, wind screaming, ears pop – very short landing run. Better than the straight & level stuff which bored me.

            • rickflick
              Posted February 24, 2018 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

              We called those tight landings a superslip. Just come in high over the numbers and put the nose almost straight down and slip like crazy. Even in a fully enclosed cockpit, it’s very fun. As a matter of fact, the normal training for short field landings is not very effective since many emergency situations will not allow a stable approach. A superslip makes you capable of radical recovery under awkward conditions.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted February 24, 2018 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      4:41 H [in purple circle] walking to the right

      5:35 Begins final approach [H in purple circle]

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted February 24, 2018 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

      Eagle shadow on grass. Undercarriage deployed.

      • rickflick
        Posted February 24, 2018 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

        “undercarriage deployed.” Yes indeed! I’m sure the undercarriage is part of the breaking maneuver. Part of the fundamentals of aerodynamic flight.

        Thanks for walking through the flight.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted February 24, 2018 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

          I hope Mr. E got a decent bit of stringy rabbit for his trouble.

      • Diane G.
        Posted February 24, 2018 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

        Yes, Michael, thanks–really helped me appreciate it much more!

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted February 24, 2018 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

          Thnx! You are one of those xtra nice** people that smooths the world along.

          ** Obs not all the time – that’s soft, but enough to make the diff

          • Diane G.
            Posted February 27, 2018 at 12:14 am | Permalink

            Aw, gee…


  7. Vaal
    Posted February 24, 2018 at 5:35 pm | Permalink


    When I was young my best friend raised a Red Tailed Hawk from a chick. There was a church lot nearby where he lived and he used to fly his hawk around there. Often the hawk would land on the church steeple, my pal would put some raw chicken up held in a gloved hand and blow a whistle. The Hawk would rocket down at an incredible speed and hit his hand with a WHAM like it catching prey. The impact was impressive.

    Then my friend wanted to see what would happen if he didn’t use his glove. Once the hawk was on the steeple he held chicken in his hand, blue the whistle, and the hawk dove down rocketing towards my friend’s outstretched arm with the usual frightening speed. But at the very last moment the hawk burst out it’s wings, broke speed almost to a stop, and landed gently on my friend’s arm with no harm at all.

    It was repeatable; glove on the Hawk would slam into the glove with heavy taloned force; glove off, would land gently so as (apparently) not to harm my friend’s arm.

    Pretty neat.

    • rickflick
      Posted February 24, 2018 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      Very neat. I suspect the hawk learned polite manners as it was being raised. It would have noticed a sharp reaction whenever it overplayed his talons, and avoided inflicting pain on the main food source.

    • Mark R.
      Posted February 25, 2018 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      Very cool story.

  8. Hempenstein
    Posted February 24, 2018 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    Do eagles normally fly to the heights that one was released from?

    Also, I wonder if their ears are deaf to the frequencies of rushing air? That could explain why they screech – they have to in order to communicate with others.

    And Vaal – wow!

    • Posted February 24, 2018 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      Maybe their ears close in flight.

    • rickflick
      Posted February 24, 2018 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      “the bald eagle, for example, glides at altitudes of up to 10,000 feet.”

  9. yazikus
    Posted February 24, 2018 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Just wonderful. We’ve been watching the program Animal Cams with the kiddo, and it is wonderful. They travel around fitting cameras to a variety of species to aid the scientists and conservationists in their work. The footage is just stunning, and I enjoy watching the researchers watch the footage, knowing they would never have been able to capture it so. They worked with Devil Rays the other night, and captured footage of a very, very pregnant ray with a very, very active baby-ray moving about inside her. Very cool stuff.

  10. Mark R.
    Posted February 24, 2018 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Damn, that was special.

    I loved how his/her? head was continually angling and bobbing and twitching and the wings just smooth and steady. I never knew how much a bird (bird of prey or any bird?) flicked their head around to gain bearing and observation.

    I’d love to see a video superimposed on this of what the eagle actually sees…eagle-eyes-wise. Wiki says 4-8x stronger than humans…don’t know where the bald eagle lands on that scale, but it would be cool to see. And probably not hard to do if you do video. I’m inept at video software.

  11. DutchA
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 4:55 am | Permalink

    Great video, and some great comments. Excellent way to start a lazy sunday. 🙂

  12. Mike
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    They are magnificent Birds, and the sound takes me back 50 yrs, when ! was Skydiving whilst in the Armed Forces, and that is exactly the sound you hear whilst in freefall.

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