Bird Whistle for Airliners?

Can little whistles drive away our feathered nemeses?

Those of you who live in deer country know all about deer whistles, those little devices you attach to the bumper of your vehicle that emit a high-pitched tone intended to let deer know to steer clear of your bumper. The only thing certain about deer whistles is that they have a perfect track record when installed on vehicles that have not yet run into a deer, after which time their safety record is poor. Nevertheless, they remain big sellers in general stores from Unadilla to Ukiah.

True believers in the technology who also fly airplanes can take heart that a similar device for airplanes is in the works. Invented by Barbara Bennett Wilson of Dobbs Ferry, New York, the airborne version is intended not for deer but for birds and not for your car but for your airplane. The device would be “wired” to the airplane’s engines and could be positioned so as not to “interrupt the aerodynamic flow of air around the body of the plane.” The press release points out that the bird whistle could be installed at the factory or as an aftermarket accessory. The release shows illustrations of the whistles installed along the engine inlet and another installed near the tail, for birds, perhaps, that are overtaking the airplane.

The would-be product is being publicized by Invention Resource International, a clearinghouse for inventors. The bird whistle bears the name of a highly successful flight safety device manufacturer, which we won’t repeat here as the name of the device will surely change. The marketers fail to address a few questions, such as how the little whistles will be heard over the din of the giant turbofan engines on the airliners on which they are installed or, better yet, how they will warn off birds who are already too stupid to be afraid of a giant airplane traveling at better than 250 mph.