A joint exhibit by Fraport AG and the Senckenberg Natural History Museum opens today at Frankfurt Airport. What do octopuses and rockets have in common? How have pterosaurs inspired the design of gliders? These and many other questions are answered by “The Evolution of Flight”, an exhibit that opened today in Terminal 2 at Frankfurt Airport. It is jointly hosted by Fraport AG and the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung.
Every day some 200,000 people pass through Frankfurt Airport. Most of them are travelers. But many others come to work, shop, eat, or watch planes land and take off. Starting today, yet another attraction awaits them all: an exhibit called “The Evolution of Flight” that is the outcome of a collaboration between Fraport AG and the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (Senckenberg Nature Research Society). Fascinating facts about flight are presented in texts, pictures and videos on two “sciencecubes” underneath gigantic models of ancient flying reptiles.

The first living organisms that took to the air, about 400 million years ago, were insects. They were eventually followed by reptiles, birds and mammals. Much later still, humans were inspired by the designs found in nature to invent a variety of flying machines. The exhibit directly compares these with their archetypes to show how similar they are. The rotor of a helicopter, for example, is strongly reminiscent of dragonflies, which are astonishingly powerful and agile aviators: species of the Aeshnidae family (known as hawkers or darners), for instance, fly at speeds up to 50 kilometers per hour while beating their wings 30 times a second. They can also accelerate thirty times faster than what is induced by the earth’s gravity, thus outperforming a state-of-the-art jetfighter by a wide margin.

The lift-generating wings of aircraft are an ingenious feat of engineering that was inspired by pterosaurs, bats and birds. Interestingly, it is also possible to “fly” in water: octopuses, for example, swim by jet propulsion, the same method that is used to drive spacecraft.

Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Volker Mosbrugger, Director-General of the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung said: “The findings of our studies of the forms and functions of living organisms aren’t only of interest to a small group of specialized scientists. As the exhibit shows, they also have practical applications, in this case for designing aircraft. We’re therefore very pleased to be able to present this work not only in our museum, but also here at Germany’s largest airport.”

Dr. Pierre Dominique Prümm, Senior Executive Vice President of Fraport AG’s Airside&Terminal Management unit said: “Frankfurt Airport is always an experience for guests and passengers, thrilling them again and again with new events, tailored services, leading-edge facilities and surprising activities. The exhibit isn’t something you would normally expect at an airport, but it makes a striking and memorable impression. Our excellent collaboration with Senckenberg is yet another example of how Fraport creates a sense of place to make Frankfurt Airport even more attractive by distinguishing it from other, more anonymous airports. Here two of the city’s foremost institutions, namely Frankfurt Airport and the Senckenberg Natural History Museum, have joined forces for the first time in a project with great public appeal.”

The “Evolution of Flight” exhibit is open around the clock near the platform of the SkyLine people mover in Terminal 2, and is free for everyone. Guides of the Senckenberg Natural History Museum will show visitors around the exhibit on selected days.