Owls inspire Wichita State researchers to create soundless propellers

As night falls, an unsuspecting gray mouse chitters under a tree while nibbling on a seed she scavenged in the grass. Then — swoosh! — in less than an instant, the space where she stood is empty, and an owl swoops soundlessly away with the mouse in her talons.

That level of silent stealth is something a group of Wichita State students is attempting to replicate as part of a project to use owl-feather technology to create silent drones for NASA’s University Student Research Challenge.