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Frequently Asked Questions

Well... it's a bit technical.  Suffice it to say, In order to serve you better, and offer the easiest and best ticket buying experience, it's better if the system 'knows who you are' before you add tickets to your shopping cart.  Having an identity on the system prior to ordering allows you to buy your tickets trouble free, and if you DO have problems, our site technicians can troubleshoot the problem much more easily than if you were just "any ol' schmo off the street".  :)

You're unique... you're special... and heck... we like you even better if we know it's you!

This is the famous "What is your Name" of the questions, three.

King Arthur

King Arthur is a legendary British leader of the late 5th and early 6th centuries, who, according to medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the early 6th century. The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and his historical existence is debated and disputed by modern historians.[2] The sparse historical background of Arthur is gleaned from various sources, including the Annales Cambriae, the Historia Brittonum, and the writings of Gildas. Arthur's name also occurs in early poetic sources such as Y Gododdin.[3]

The legendary Arthur developed as a figure of international interest largely through the popularity of Geoffrey of Monmouth's fanciful and imaginative 12th-century Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain).[4] Some Welsh and Breton tales and poems relating the story of Arthur date from earlier than this work; in these works, Arthur appears either as a great warrior defending Britain from human and supernatural enemies or as a magical figure of folklore, sometimes associated with the Welsh Otherworld, Annwn.[5] How much of Geoffrey's Historia (completed in 1138) was adapted from such earlier sources, rather than invented by Geoffrey himself, is unknown.

Question two of the Famous three Questions...

To Find the Holy Grail!

The Holy Grail is a dish, plate, stone, or cup that is part of an important theme of Arthurian literature. A grail, wondrous but not explicitly "holy," first appears in Perceval le Gallois, an unfinished romance by Chrétien de Troyes:[1] it is a processional salver used to serve at a feast. Chrétien's story attracted many continuators, translators and interpreters in the later 12th and early 13th centuries, including Wolfram von Eschenbach, who makes the grail a great precious stone that fell from the sky. The Grail legend became interwoven with legends of the Holy Chalice.[2] The connection with Joseph of Arimathea and with vessels associated with the Last Supper and crucifixion of Jesus, dates from Robert de Boron's Joseph d'Arimathie (late 12th century) in which Joseph receives the Grail from an apparition of Jesus and sends it with his followers to Great Britain. Building upon this theme, later writers recounted how Joseph used the Grail to catch Christ's blood while interring him and how he founded a line of guardians to keep it safe in Britain. The legend may combine Christian lore with a Celtic myth of a cauldron endowed with special powers.

The third and final question.

What do you mean, an African or European Swallow?

To begin with, I needed basic kinematic data on African and European swallow species.

  South African Swallow
(Hirundo spilodera)
European Swallow
(Hirundo rustica)

Although 47 of the 74 worldwide swallow species are found in Africa,1 only two species are named after the continent: the West African Swallow (Hirundo domicella) and the South African Swallow (Hirundo spilodera), also known as the South African Cave Swallow.

Since the range of the South African Swallow extends only as far north as Zaire,2 I felt fairly confident that this was the non-migratory African species referred to in previous discussions of the comparative and cooperative weight-bearing capabilities of African and European swallows.3

Kinematic data for both African species was difficult to find, but the Barn or European Swallow (Hirundo rustica) has been studied intensively, and kinematic data for that species was readily available.


It’s a simple question of weight ratios

A 54-year survey of 26,285 European Swallows captured and released by the Avian Demography Unit of the University of Capetown finds that the average adult European swallow has a wing length of 12.2 cm and a body mass of 20.3 grams.4

Because wing beat frequency and wing amplitude both scale with body mass,5 and flight kinematic data is available for at least 22 other bird species,6 it should be possible to estimate the frequency (f ) and amplitude (A) of the European Swallow by a comparison with similar species. With those two numbers, it will be possible to estimate airspeed (U).

In order to maintain airspeed velocity, a swallow needs to beat its wings forty-three times every second, right?

Actually, wrong. By comparing the European Swallow with bird species of similar body mass, we can estimate that the swallow beats its wings 18 times a second with an amplitude of 18 cm:

Species Body mass Frequency Amplitude
Zebra Finch 13 g 27 Hz 11 cm
European Swallow 20 g ≈ 18 Hz? ≈ 18 cm?
Downy Woodpecker 27 g 14 Hz 29 cm
Budgerigar 34 g 14 Hz 15 cm

Note that even the tiny Zebra Finch flaps its wings no more than 27 times a second while cruising.

If we ignore body mass and look only at bird species with a similar wingspan, we can estimate an average frequency of 14 beats per second and an amplitude of 23 cm:

Species Wingspan Frequency Amplitude
Budgerigar 27 cm 14 Hz 15 cm
European Swallow ≈ 28–30 cm ≈ 14 Hz? ≈ 23 cm?
Downy Woodpecker 31 cm 14 Hz 29 cm
European Starling 35 cm 14 Hz 26 cm

By averaging all 6 values, we can estimate that an average European Swallow flies at cruising speed with a frequency of roughly 15 beats per second, and an amplitude of roughly 22 cm.

Skip a bit, Brother

Last month’s article on The Strouhal Number in Cruising Flight showed how simplified flight waveforms that graph amplitude versus wavelength can be useful for visualizing the Strouhal ratio (fA/U), a dimensionless parameter that tends to fall in the range of 0.2–0.4 during efficient cruising flight.

For a European Swallow flying with our estimated wingbeat amplitude of 24 cm, the predicted pattern of cruising flight ranges from a Strouhal number (St) of 0.2:


... to a less efficient 0.4:


If the first diagram (St = 0.2) is accurate, then the cruising speed of the European Swallow would be roughly 16 meters per second (15 beats per second * 1.1 meters per beat). If the second diagram (St = 0.4) is accurate, then the cruising speed of the European Swallow would be closer to 8 meters per second (15 beats per second * 0.55 meters per beat).

If we settle on an intermediate Strouhal value of 0.3:


We can estimate the airspeed of the European Swallow to be roughly 11 meters per second (15 beats per second * 0.73 meters per beat).

Three shall be the number thou shalt count

Airspeed can also be predicted using a published formula. By inverting this midpoint Strouhal ratio of 0.3 (fA/U ≈ 0.3), Graham K. Taylor et al. show that as a rule of thumb, the speed of a flying animal is roughly 3 times frequency times amplitude (U ≈ 3fA).5


We now need only plug in the numbers:


U ≈ 3fA
f ≈ 15 (beats per second)
A ≈ 0.22 (meters per beat)
U ≈ 3*15*0.22 ≈ 9.9

... to estimate that the airspeed velocity of an unladen European Swallow is 10 meters per second.

Oh, yeah, I agree with that

With some further study, it became clear that these estimates are accurate, though perhaps coincidental.

An actual study of two European Swallows flying in a low-turbulence wind tunnel in Lund, Sweden, shows that swallows flap their wings much slower than my estimate, at only 7–9 beats per second:

“Compared with other species of similar size, the swallow has quite low wingbeat frequency and relatively long wings.” 7

The maximum speed the birds could maintain was 13–14 meters per second, and although the Lund study does not discuss cruising flight in particular, the most efficient flapping (7 beats per second) occurred at an airspeed in the range of 8–11 meters per second, with an amplitude of 90–100° (17–19 cm).

And there was much rejoicing

Averaging the above numbers and plugging them in to the Strouhal equation for cruising flight (fA/U = 7 beats per second * 0.18 meters per beat / 9.5 meters per second) yields a Strouhal number of roughly 0.13:


... indicating a surprisingly efficient flight pattern falling well below the expected range of 0.2–0.4.

Although a definitive answer would of course require further measurements, published species-wide averages of wing length and body mass, initial Strouhal estimates based on those averages and cross-species comparisons, the Lund wind tunnel study of birds flying at a range of speeds, and revised Strouhal numbers based on that study all lead me to estimate that the average cruising airspeed velocity of an unladen European Swallow is roughly 11 meters per second, or 24 miles an hour.

What is the capital of Assyria?

For those looking for additional answers, the four capitals of Assyria were Ashur (or Qalat Sherqat), Calah (or Nimrud), the short-lived Dur Sharrukin (or Khorsabad), and Nineveh.8 The ruins of all four ancient cities fall within the modern state of Iraq.