# How fast could a bird-like human fly under optimal conditions?

So I have a race of people who look mostly like humans, but share a lot of traits with birds, most notably:

• Wings placed midway down the back, roughly double their armspan (varies by species)
• Hollow, low-density bones
• Tailfeathers (size and shape varies by species)
• Increased lung capacity

Their max height typically caps out around 5'6". There is a degree of magic that grants them the ability to fly (to get around any remaining issues of human-shaped beings being unable to truly fly).

So the question is thus: What would a reasonable average flight speed be for a reasonably fit person of this species given ideal flight conditions (ie. good weather and favourable winds)?

I need this information to determine how far a group will have travelled so I can estimate how long a return trip will be with their flying capabilities hampered.

EDIT: Reworded information so question is clearer.

• You ask, what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen race of people. African or European? Aug 27, 2019 at 1:58
• Hey WillowRiver, you might be interested in this related question on whether human flight is possible, it might be a starting point for your question to establish if (or how and when) flight is possible before asking about airspeed. Aug 27, 2019 at 2:13
• @Chickensarenotcows I am aware of most of the physical limitations to humaniods flying. I didn't mention it here because it wasn't directly relevant to the question, but there is a degree of magic involved in them being able to fly in the first place. I appreciate the link, however, as it does give me more to think about in regards to species design. Aug 27, 2019 at 2:55
• I don't think anyone can answer a question than essentially boils down to "how fast can people fly in my magical setting". Humans can't fly, and magical beings who resemble humans can fly at the speed of your imagination - see Superman. Aug 27, 2019 at 7:51
• @Rekesoft OP seems to indicate that this form of flight is done through physics, rather than handwavium (see: Superman). To that end, there are plenty of flight-capable specimens on Earth to draw parallels and conclusions from. I see this as answerable for the average case; one just needs to research the numbers and formulae. Aug 27, 2019 at 12:38

We have discussed winged humanoids over and over, and then a little more on this site. The conclusion is always that they cannot fly like a bird. The most recent one I can think of is this one:

Would this winged human/angel be able to fly?

So, to answer your question: Wikipedia quotes the general terminal velocity for humans on Earth to be around 53m/s, which is 195km/h or 122mph. Your winged humanoids could fly straight down at that speed.

But that's not the question you're asking for, right? Ok. In the question I mentioned above, I had an answer stating that such "angels" will nevr be able to fly like a bird, but maybe, just maybe, they might be able to glide.

Hang gliders can safely land at speeds of 5 to 20 mph according to the US Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association. That is about 2.23m/s or 8km/h for the lower bound, multiply by four for the upper one.

What this means is, if your angel is gliding at whatever speed, it should turn its wings to airbrake until they reach that speed in order to try to land. They'd better not try to do base jumping.

There is a degree of magic involved in them being able to fly.

There is a Hogwarts-worth of magic in just them evolving to have wings ;)

• It's less them evolving in the traditional sense. Them having wings is another "there was magic involved situation", but it's a long explanation about the world so I've avoided getting into it for the sake of brevity and making sure the question itself is the focus. I appreciate the potential gliding speed you've given me, however they are meant to fly in the traditional sense like birds. Aug 29, 2019 at 19:48
• @WillowRiver if they are flying like birds with those wings, then their flight is purely magical. In this case physics are suspended and you can define their speeds according to what you see fit for your world :) Aug 29, 2019 at 19:53