1. Expressions have been derived for an estimate of the average coefficient of lift, for the variation in bending moment or torque caused by wind forces and by inertia forces, and for the power output during hovering flight on one spot when the wings move according to a horizontal figure-of-eight.

2. In both hummingbirds and Drosophila the flight is consistent with steady-state aerodynamics, the average lift coefficient being 1.8 in the hummingbird and 0.8 in Drosophila.

3. The aerodynamic or hydraulic efficiency is 0.5 in the hummingbird and 0.3 in Drosophila, and in both types the aerodynamic power output is 22-24 cal/g body weight/h.

4. The total mechanical power output is 39 cal g-1 h-1 in the hummingbird because of the extra energy needed to accelerate the wing-mass. It is 24 cal g-1 h-1 in Drosophila in which the inertia term is negligible because the wing-stroke frequency is reduced to the lowest possible value for sustained flight.

5. In both animals the mechanical efficiency of the flight muscles is 0.2.

6. It is argued that the tilt of the stroke plane relative to the horizontal is an adaptation to the geometrically unfavourable induced wind and to the relatively large lift/drag ratio seen in many insects. The vertical movements at the extreme ends may serve to reduce the interaction between the shed ‘stopping’ vortex and the new bound vortex of opposite sense which has to be built up during the early part of the return stroke.

7. Two additional non-steady flow situations may exist at either end of the stroke, delayed stall and delayed build-up of circulation (Wagner effect), but since they have opposite effects it is probable that the resultant force is of about the same magnitude as that estimated for a steady-state situation.

8. Most insects have an effective elastic system to counteract the adverse effect of wing-inertia, but small fast-moving vertebrates have not. It is argued that the only material available for this purpose in this group is elastin and that it is unsuited at the rates of deformation required because recent measurements have shown that the damping is relatively high, probably due to molecular factors.

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