Flying Together

It’s been hard to ignore the honking of geese in the skies above us these past few weeks. Apparently, their instincts are overriding the weather we’ve been having, which could certainly have encouraged them to think that winter is still many months away.

Their distinctive “V” formations in flight have captivated poets and scientists. What we’ve discovered about the wisdom of their flying is truly amazing.

As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in V formation the whole flock adds at least 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.

Those who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

When a goose falls out of formation it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front.

When the head goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies in the lead position. (It makes sense to take turns doing demanding jobs both with geese and with people.)

Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed and courage. (Now, is that what I’m saying t o others when I “honk from behind?”)

Finally — and this is important — When a goose gets sick or is wounded by gunshots, and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly or until it dies, and only then do they launch out on their own, or with another formation, to catch up with their group.

If we have the sense of a goose, we too will stand by each other and work together.

Special thanks to Marion Milne of the Farmington Friends Quaker community back in my hometown of Pumpkin Hook, who gave me the details on goose wisdom.

Father Scott