Whether they’re made of scales, feathers or skin, every flap of an animal’s wings is a testament to nature’s miraculous defiance of gravity.
Even though the wonders of flight surround us, from the buzzing Housefly on the porch to the silent gliding Barred Owl in the backyard, the many adaptations that help animals to slip the surly bonds of earth often pass unnoticed.
“Flight is amazing,” says Kevin Calhoon, the Aquarium’s curator of forests. “When I think of flight, I think about how much we don’t understand about how it works. I think about migration. I think about the fact that birds can not only fly but can be so maneuverable in the air. It’s just amazing.”
On Dec. 29, however, Conquest of the Skies 3D arrives at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater. Thanks to innovative camerawork and eye-popping slow motion scenes, audiences will see nature’s fliers in a whole new way on Chattanooga’s largest screen.
And with that newfound perspective, they’ll be able to better appreciate the majesty of flight around them, whether it’s soaring Sparrows and darting Dragonflies at home or aviators like the Snowy Egret, Longwing Butterflies and Southern Flying Squirrel at the Aquarium.
In Conquest of the Skies 3D, the Emmy- and BAFTA award-winning team at Atlantic Productions (Galapagos 3D, Penguins 3D) explore the gamut of nature’s approaches to flight, from the improbable take-off of the enormous Atlas Beetle to the leaping glides of Harlequin Flying Frogs.
Audiences will hunt at the wingtips of Wrinkle-lipped Free-tailed Bats as they snatch insects from the nighttime skies of Borneo. They’ll fly in formation with Whooper Swans touching down at watery wintering sites in Scotland. One spectacular slow-motion sequence even sputs the brakes on the lightning strokes of a Hummingbird’s wings, showing how these tiny, jeweled avians can move through the air with insect-like agility.
Viewers also will take a trip back through time to see the earliest animals that left terra firma. Through the magic of computer-generated imagery, audiences will watch pterosaurs and other winged reptiles that once ruled the skies take to wing once more.
“We all dream of flying,” Mr. Calhoon says. “Today, with GoPros and drones, we see a lot of views from the air, but to me, it’s what birds can do with those wings that’s special, that they can put so much distance behind them on migrations. That’s what impresses me.”
Beginning Dec. 29, Conquest of the Skies 3D will be shown daily at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater at noon, 2 and 4 p.m. with additional 6 p.m. screenings on Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $11.95 for adults, $9.95 for children (ages 3-12). For the best value, an IMAX Club Pass offers a year of unlimited screenings of all 45-minute IMAX documentaries and discounts for guest tickets, feature film tickets and concessions.
To purchase tickets or an IMAX Club Pass, visit tnaqua.org/imax.
Did you know?
A Blowfly can beat its wings 50 times faster than the human eye can blink
The Griffon Vulture’s eight-foot wingspan allows it to soar on updrafts for hours without needing to flap them
The extinct Quetzalcoatlus was a Pterosaur (“winged lizard”) with a wingspan of almost 36 feet, as long as a school bus
Depending on their size Hummgbirds beat their wings from 10 to 80 times a second while hovering
It takes six generations for Tiny Painted Lady Butterflies to complete the 9,000-mile, round-trip between Africa and Northern Europe, one of the longest migrations of any insect
Peregrine Falcons are one of the fastest animals on the planet, capable of reaching speeds of 200 miles per hour while diving