Not Quite Flight
"That wasn't flying! That was falling with style!"
—Woody, Toy Story
Pretty much every hero with any power (or none) can fly, the reason being that they can "improvise" a power that's Not Quite Flight out of their existing power set or simply use jetpacks. Assuming they give an explanation, of course. Sometimes the writer (Stan Lee admitted he is one of these) would prefer a pseudo-scientific explanation to a non-scientific explanation. Super strong heroes can "Leap higher than a tall building", those who can phase through matter will usually be able to walk on air/float (a kind of Required Secondary Powers), and heroes with grappling hooks can do a Building Swing. Sometimes there is a big winged creature too large to sustain flight that the writers explain as gliding rather than true flight, or a pyrokinetic being able to make themselves "lighter than air" or make jet-boots by shooting fire from their feet.
The reason for this is twofold, heroes will need transportation, or it's just plain so cool that they've gotta have it as part of a Flying Brick (or similar) package. This has pretty much devalued heroes whose sole power is flight into the same category as heart. The exception is if the team has ready access to a jet or other vehicle, at which point the number of flyers gets substantially smaller.
If you think about it, superheroes who can generate or control a floating platform, and then stand on the platform, are basically doing Baron Munchausen's old trick of lifting himself by his own bootlaces.
Anime and Manga
- Bleach has this in all the standard forms: Anyone with enough skill can stand on air outside of the Sereitei.
- Never adequately explained why they can't do so inside the Sereitei; the limited explanation given of the mechanics behind air-walking mean it ought to be easier in a place made entirely of spirit particles.
- Could be a case of Fridge Logic in a natural way. Even with the limited explanation given, the way they gather footholds in thin air could actually work too well, either flinging them all over the place, or by making shackles around their feet instead of just under them. Either way, it is a case of being so used to it being hard in one place where you need to use it all the time, compared to a place you don't really have the emergency to need it. In a Real life example, it's like if you could jump one foot vertically on the Earth, but try doing the same thing with the same muscle memory in effect on the Moon. You'll be in for a surprise.
- Never adequately explained why they can't do so inside the Sereitei; the limited explanation given of the mechanics behind air-walking mean it ought to be easier in a place made entirely of spirit particles.
- In Mahou Sensei Negima, Kotaro can't fly, but his shadow hounds can, and being made of darkness, he just forms them into the shape of floating wheels attached to his feet so he can run through the sky.
- Negi himself needs his staff for sustained actual flight.
- Not since he developed Perpetual Lightning Form. Now he can just float.
- Rakan has demonstrated the ability to fly by throwing one of his swords and jumping on it. At Mach 3.2.
- Negi himself needs his staff for sustained actual flight.
- In the third season of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, when we're finally introduced to major characters who are not inherently powerful enough for proper flight, Subaru (and her sister Ginga) turns out to be able to rollerblade on magical tracks/pathways that can extend indefinitely and don't appear to need to anchor to anything. (They anchor in the first episode, but seem to have discarded that limitation in subsequent episodes.)
- Also, Caro can summon (more specifically enlarge) and ride her pet dragon, and Elio's spear has a jet-propelled form. A fancomic has Teana wondering if she's the only new major cast member without a means of flight.
- The eponymous hero of Inuyasha makes Roof Hopping look easy. Doesn't matter if there are any buildings handy or not, treetops also work. And his leaps can cover kilometers (Word of God has stated one leap could clear three mountains). He also both rises and falls rather slowly, as if he was gliding.
- Shakugan no Shana: Shana starts out at Roof Hopping and later uses her power over fire to sprout large flaming wings in order to get around. Margery Daw surfs on her Lord (who takes the form of a magical tome). Sydonay shapeshifts into something with wings.
- Kaze no Stigma: Kazuma uses his extraordinarily powerful wind magic to move around.
- The assassin Tao Pai Pai from Dragon Ball doesn't fly; he gets around by uprooting trees/smashing down columns and tossing them with great force towards his destination, then running after them at top speed and jumping on top.
- And judging from where he starts and where he stops, the distance seems to be the length of a few cities.
- The ninja in Naruto make good use of In a Single Bound combined with hopping between giant tree branches to get air travel done. Taijutsu specialists are especially good at high jumps, and launching others. Temari glides very well by riding her giant steel fan. For "by their own bootstraps," there's the occasional ninja whose summon or other type of creation can fly - these are often large enough to ride, as in the case of Deidara's and Sai's bird mounts. Gaara can also levitate sand, and stand on it. Deva path Pain can use his gravity power to launch himself long distances. Jugo can make a rocket with his body and fire chakra out of it to greatly extend the speed and distance of his jumps.
- However, there is the occasional true-flying character. Konan can achieve true flight on paper wings. The Tsuchikage has the ability to give flight or grant others the ability to fly by touching them.
- In One Piece, there are only a handful of Voluntary Shapeshifting-based Devil's Fruit powers that can grant flight. However, Luffy can use elastic tension to launch himself into the air, and suck in/blow out air to propel himself somewhat. Robin can sprout many arms, then woven into wings, to glide, but it's incredibly tiresome for her. Usopp has a belt with a grappling-hook feature used mostly for Building Swing or a variant. Brook (and one of Chopper's forms) can leap tall buildings in a... well, you know. Franky can launch himself using gas. The CP 9 villains have Geppou and its faster advanced form Kamisori, which are essentially extra jumps, or "kicking off the air". Buggy the Clown can make any part of his body fly around detached as long as his feet are on a solid surface within an unspecified range of his other parts (the author stated the range to be a circle "200 Bara Bara" in diamater, but what he didn't say is how far that is). Most impressive are the majority of Logia users. They can manipulate their element, and turn themselves into their element, so they can move in something similar to flight and energy-based Logias can move around in a manner similar to teleporting.
- Black Star of Soul Eater eventually learns to stretch and control his Scarf of Asskicking so much that he can plant it in the ground and lift himself up to great heights. Lampshaded when he asks Tsubaki if this is flying. When she says it really isn't, he says he doesn't really care.
- There's also Thor who swings his hammer around his head and then releases it with it still attached to his wrist. The momentum then carries him half way across the world. Sure, that would work....no, really, it would work. It would take some epic deltoids though or maybe a magic hammer. Thor has both.
- His inability to fly depends entirely on who happens to be writing him at the moment. It's possible that they might still stick with the "I throw my hammer!" bit but the way it's portrayed there's no way it could be anything BUT true flight.
- Magneto can also pick himself up with metal objects that he levitates with his powers.
- Magneto is sometimes stated as outright flying (or "levitating") by using the Earth's magnetic field.
- Susan Storm can move around on invisible platforms that lift her into the sky.
- Wonder Woman was originally unable to fly directly in the manner of Superman but (as with original Superman) they simplified all the handwaves to just give her flight.
- In The Silver Age of Comic Books, and possibly The Golden Age of Comic Books, Wonder Woman used to "glide on air currents"—which somehow always seemed to be going in the right direction unless it became a plot point (like one story in which the villain encased a city in ice, which apparently meant that there were only downdrafts). This was retconned into full flight in the 1986 revamp, and has remained so ever since.
- Storm uses her weather control powers to create strong gusts of wind that would lift her into the air.
- Siryn can fly by screaming really loud—no clue given as to how this is supposed to work, as she's clearly not shouting at the ground when she does this. Or, you know, moving backwards.
- Siryn's cousin, the late Banshee, likewise.
- Also, sometimes they seem to be able to speak while doing this because Talking Is a Free Action.
- The electromagnetic hero, Static can't fly himself, but he uses his powers to lift a disk (originally a manhole cover or trashcan lid), which he can then ride like a skateboard. The trash can lid was Lampshaded in a commercial where it was compared to the other heroes' much cooler transportation vehicles, with Static telling the viewers "Hey, ya gotta start somewhere."
- Iceman of the X-Men can do that thing where he makes a trail of ice in the air which he surfs on.
- The thing is that his "Ice Slides" as he calls him still need to be anchored to the ground somewhere. Some more realistic depictions show this as a strictly short range transportation option
- Kitty Pryde has been known to walk on air using her phasing power.
- Another "leaper": the DCU character Doomsday, who can jump miles at a time.
- Plastic Man does the seven league boots thing.
- The Flash has a rarely used and totally inexpiable ability to walk on air (and in one instance Barry ran through the vacuum of space). More realistically Flashes can use their speed to cross short gaps without jumping.
- Given the Flash's nigh-infinite speed potential and the existence of the Speed Force to handwave away any physical implausibility issues, this is hardly the most impossible thing a Flash has ever done.
- More realistically, Flash would sometime build up speed and run off the edge of a building/ramp/whatever, and let his momentum carry him forward. Used to great effect twice in Justice League: The New Frontier.
- The older Flash, Jay Garrick specifically, would rapidly move his legs, building up air pressure under him to float when he was dropped by one of his fellow heroes.
- Before losing his powers, Marvel's Quicksilver could "fly" for short distances by flapping his arms or "vibrating" his legs;
- In one of the early Bionicle comics, Tahu is grabbed by a Nui-Rama and lifted far into the sky before getting dropped. Since he, unlike some of his comrades, does not possess a Mask of Levitation, he instead uses his elemental power of fire to heat the air beneath him, slowing his fall. While it didn't slow him enough to avoid a lethal impact, luckily Onua caught on and took advantage of the slowed fall to grab Tahu with his Mask of Strength.
- The Mask of Levitation itself might be a better example, however, since it only allows you to stay still in the air. Lewa uses his Air element to create winds that propel him instead.
- Later, the entire Toa team got jetpacks so that they could fly through the "Universe Core" without touching the dangerous swamp waters.
- Also, there's a Mask of Flight.
- The Toa Hordika discovered a way to achieve flight by launching their Rhotuka energy-wheels into the air, then quickly grabbing onto them, and not worrying about the absurdity of the method.
- Arcanna of the Squadron Supreme had to use her "nature magic" to levitate a nearby tree branch or other wood to ride on; later, she just learned to use air for the same purpose, effectively making her a flyer.
- Captain America (comics) is a rare main-character aversion. Iron Man is more than happy to give him a lift though, and it is adorable.
- Superman himself originally could not fly, but rather used his super strength to "leap an eighth of a mile" or, as the radio serial put it, "leap tall buildings in a single bound."
- The Flash villain the Trickster was able to run in mid-air courtesy of special shoes that pumped out compressed air jets. The original Trickster developed the shoes to help him overcome a fear of falling from the high-wire he walked on in his circus act.
- The Atom can change his molecular density at will with his suit's equipment. On a low setting, he can glide on air currents when shrunken.
- In Runaways, only Karolina can truly fly; the group relies on a giant robot frog to get around. In later arcs, Victor and Nico have been seen levitating, Nico also occasionally flying by conjuring wings or a griffin to ride. Xavin has two methods of flight, thanks to possesing the powers of the Fantastic Four: she can move herself and others around in her Invisible Woman forcefields, and rocket-propel herself with her Human Torch powers.
- Said giant robot frog couldn't fly either, just make massive leaps. Until it was destroyed and rebuilt with real flight capabilities.
- In Iron Man Noir, the Iron Man and War Machine suits aren't truly capable of flight given their size and weight. Instead, the jet turbines on their backs have jets that slow their descent after jumping out of an airship, allowing them to land safely. Basically, rather than actually flying, they fall with style.
- Nate Grey uses telekinesis to pick himself up and "fly". Most telekinetic characters can do this, actually, but Nate's better at it.
- Originally, Darkhawk got around by launching himself in the air with his Grappling Hook Gun and gliding on his wings. He eventually learned how to fly.
- Spider-Man sometimes uses his webbing to create glider-wings, parachutes, bungee chords, and other means to send himself through the air when he doesn't feeling like swinging.
- Originally Morbius the Living Vampire could glide because of his "hollow, bird-like bones". Not that such bones make any sense considering what gave him his other powers (bat bones, though narrow and light, are filled with marrow as average mammal bones) and none of the logical drawbacks of hollow having bones was ever explored in the comics, so nowadays most writers just have him glide or levitate because he's a vampire.
- The Naruto fanfic The Sealed Kunai gives Naruto this, as a generalization of canon's water-walking. Helps that here he's been Level Grinding his wind element.
- Two examples in With Strings Attached:
- Paul at first thinks he can fly; he can't, he can just jump real far. At his highest level of strength he can jump half a mile horizontally and thousands of feet straight up. At his lower level of strength he can jump some 50 feet with little effort. He rarely has use for this ability, though, especially given the damage he causes on both launch and land.
- Ringo once levitated himself with his TK, but he was basically flying blind for seven seconds before he had a concentration failure, and he hasn't tried it again.
- In The Chronicles of Riddick, Dame Vaako threatens
Judi Denchan air elemental by opening the bomb bay of the ship they are in and pushing her towards it; she then reveals that while she can't fly, she can hover very well.
- In Condorman, the titular hero invents a flying suit with giant wings. It doesn't actually fly per se, but it does glide sort of well. Except, of course, for the trial run, where he leaps off the Eiffel Tower and ends up crashing into the Seine.
- Toy Story, the former Trope Namer. "It's not flying, just falling with style." The Buzz Lightyear toy, being a simple child's toy, can not actually fly. He does however, know some fancy acrobatics, and his wings seem to be at least partially aerodynamic enough to glide for a bit.
- Though he believes he can actually fly for most of the first movie.
- In Batman Begins Bruce is able to use his cape as a short-range glider due to it being made out of "memory cloth".
- Sorcerers in the Second Apocalypse series can create solid projections of force and stand on them, essentially allowing them to walk through the air.
- Allomancers in Mistborn can telekinetically push and pull against metals to travel long distances without touching a surface.
- In the Green-Sky Trilogy (set on a low-gravity planet), the Kindar, a tree-dwelling culture, have a garment that effectively functions as patagia. This also factors into the video game based on the series where a shuba is needed to get most anywhere, and having it ripped is a major hassle.
- In Diane Duane's Young Wizards series, wizards can walk on air by suggesting to the air that it be as solid as stone for a while.
- In Mutant X, Brennan's electricity-throwing power turns into an ion engine coming out of his hands after the Mid-Season Upgrade.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 brings us Puma Man, who has the ability to rear-project major cities—er, fly like a moron—er, "leap" great distances (yet somehow change direction while in midair).
- In Buck Rogers, the Anti-Gravity substance "inertron" was used to make "jumping belts." A belt was simply a chunk of inertron strapped to the wearer's back, lowering his effective weight to the point where he could jump huge distances like a grasshopper. Later in the strip, low-powered jet-packs combined with an inertron belt did come to allow actual flight.
- In GURPS people who can't afford Flight can get: Super Jump, Walk on Air, Glide, Super Bounce, Lighter than Air. The pulling yourself up by your bootstraps can be done with TK or Control. Absurdly high Jumping skill or just the Flying Leap skill also allow for travel that's similar to flight.
- Dungeons & Dragons has a number of alternatives to true flight. Magic items which mimic the effect are common. The Immovable Rod can easily support a character's weight when activated, but is an ordinary metal rod when deactivated; two of them can be used for a set of mobile monkey bars. Spells like Reverse Gravity and Telekinesis can be used for flight-like effects. Like everything else, this is cranked Up to Eleven with the Epic handbook; a ridiculously high Balance skill allows one to balance on clouds.
- In Bionicle, Lewa originally didn't fly; he could levitate one thing at a time (he could be that one thing, which was super convenient) and swung from tree to tree. He used his elemental powers (Air) to help along the way, but didn't do anything resembling flying. Once he was a Toa Nuva, he combined his improved mask of levitation , greater control over his element, and a pair of BFSes that helped him glide and sort of power him to more or less fly. This was great until the Bohrok-Kal showed up. Turns out that the flying wasn't so easy when you can't manipulate the air to do your bidding.
- In the Pokémon games, Dodrio (which doesn't even have wings) seems to use Fly by jumping really high. In the 3D games, a Dodrio using this move will be shown running in place about 30 feet above ground to keep aloft while waiting for the opponent to make a move.
- Awkward Zombie offers an alternate explanation.
- There is also the fire-type Blaziken, whose Pokedex entry says "it cannot fly, but can jump so high that it doesn't matter."
- To a lesser extent, there's the ability Levitate, which amounts to the Pokémon gaining immunity to Ground attacks without any of the other strengths, weaknesses, or moves inherent to true Flying types.
- Gardevoir cannot fly or Levitate, but in Pokémon Sword and Shield, if you have one in your party when you make a campsite, it doesn't walk or stand; it kind of floats.
- City of Heroes characters get jump jets, rocket packs, when they're of too low a level to fly. They get hover as their first step toward flying.
- Super Jump from the Leaping pool is almost as good as flight and unlike real jumping lets you turn in mid-leap and even stop moving to drop sooner than you would have.
- In Spore, you can get wings in four different styles, depending on the upgrade - but they don't allow you to fly so much as they let you glide for progressively longer periods. No matter how much you press the jump button, you will come back down to earth eventually.
- The Galactic Adventures expansion does, however, let you fly. (But only by placing jump pads far away from the planet at the right angle, teleporting to them, and being launched into orbit.
- Pretty much everyone in the Touhou series can fly, with powers that range from "Manipulation of Flowers", to "Manipulation of Boundaries", which extends to anything that could possibly be conceived of as a boundary, even if it's completely imaginary. The main character Reimu originally had to use a flying turtle to fly in the PC-98 games, but inexplicably gained the ability to fly as her primary special ability in the windows games. Later in Imperishable Night Reimu inverts this trope. Instead of using a current superpower creatively in order to fly, she uses her ability to fly creatively to become completely invincible by flying away from reality, all the while still being able to attack things in the real world.
- Apparently, a footnote in a supplementary work that explains how Flandre (power to destroy things, non-substantial wings) can fly, can be interpreted to mean that literally everyone in Gensokyo can fly
- Giants: Citizen Kabuto: Delphi's Turbo ability allows short jumps over the terrain but can cut out while airborne.
- In Just Cause 2, Rico can use his parachute and Grappling Hook Gauntlet in tandem to glide for pretty much indefinite periods of time just above the surface of Panau. He can also use it to not quite fly up buildings.
- Samus Aran of Metroid has a rather unorthodox method of flying: jumping while already airborn. Her Space Jump upgrade goes far past double jumps, allowing Samus to spin jump inifinitely. With the right timing, Samus will never touch the ground.
- Knuckles from Sonic the Hedgehog's gliding.
- Rouge gets this later in series. Not to mention Amy's hammer-propelled-floating...ness, in Sonic Heroes.
- Avalon Code features the hammer's special attack, which involves flinging oneself in a straight line to cross gaps both large and small, since the player character apparently doesn't know how to jump.
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind had Scrolls of Icarian Flight, which gave you +1000 bonus to Acrobatics. This meant that you could leap across half Vvardenfell in a single jump. This also meant that if the bonus wore off while you were still in the air, you'd leave a very messy smear on the ground when you land (unless you cast another spell to dampen your fall), just like it happened to the Scrolls' original creator.
- Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy: Allow you to levitate an object you are standing on to reach certain areas. "TK surfing" started out as quirk of the physics system but was kept when the developers realised what they could do with it.
- In Bug!, Bug has a pair of wings, but they're too small to allow him to fly. In Bug Too!, he does get the ability to slow his descent for a short while... by flapping his arms like wings.
- The Windham Classics Alice in Wonderland had two objects that granted this. The parasol allowed you to make a controlled downward glide, but the Mad Hatter's hat let you catch updrafts. It also used the same engine as the Green-Sky Trilogy game.
- Most of the later Castlevania games give you an ability that allows you to infinitely super jump into the air.
- In Batman: Arkham City Batman can use his improved Grappling Hook Pistol and cape to move through the city much easier than he did in the first game. By diving and using the grapple to increase his speed and altitude, Bats can apparently move through the entire city without landing.
- Shows up in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. First you get the Grip Crystal, which allows you to use a grappling-hook power for short distances (a later dungeon even includes an area where you have to Grip your way to several spires in short succession without falling). Then you find platforms made of a wind-sensitive mineral, that Whirlwind powers will lift into the air for you to hop across. Lastly, you gain an ally who can convert warm updrafts into Thermals capable of carrying the entire party, armor, weapons, and all (which completes a Brick Joke from the beginning of the game when it was mentioned that Mars Adepts can't fly).
- In The Quest of Ki, Ki can continue floating upwards when she jumps so long as she doesn't hit the ceiling.
- Lampshaded somewhat mockingly in this strip of Knowledge Is Power.
- Wonderella can't fly but she can totally jump hella high.
- And she's quite pissed that the Godhead gave her sister Penumbra the power to "float upon the axis of reality". "Frickin' FLIGHT! I am RAGE personified!".
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja has the "organic jetpack" which can grow out of your body if you exercise too much. It allows you to fly with methane and hydrogen as fuel.
- A lot of the "flying" characters in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe are actually doing this sort of thing rather than true flight. Several geokinetics ride on telekinetically controlled boulders to fly. Forcefield users ride disks of force. Magnetic heroes and villains manipulate earth's magnetic field. Gravity manipulators make pockets of "free fall", allowing them to jump impossible distances. And the super-strong merely use their leg muscles to leap entire city blocks at once.
- Phase in the Whateley Universe can do this by reducing his mass and so increasing his velocity after jumping; he can also drift slowly while super-light. But it's tricky. Most other flyers, whether the Flying Brick package (PK supermen, PDPs with the superman ability, gravitic superman powers, etc.) or unique, just know what to do.
- Generator figured out how to fake flying by casting a PK copy of herself into her clothes and lifting herself into the air. Chaka figured out how to use her Ki to make wire-fu leaps through the air and run across the tops of trees.
- Starting in Volume 4, Ruby Rose of RWBY seems to have leveraged her Super Speed and Recoil Boost into something that is almost but quite true flight, including outrageously long hang times and hurtling like a comet at her opponents.
- Her sister Yang has been able to manage something like horizontal flight with her own Recoil Boost since the "Yellow" Trailer.
- The "being in a team" thing is common; look no further than Teen Titans. When they're not in a vehicle, Cyborg is always being carried around by one of the fliers. Robin usually just uses Building Swing, but for longer distances he might hitch a ride.
- There was that time with the bird flyer suit, but it never showed up again.
- Terra can also ride on rocks she's levitating.
- In Gargoyles, the Gargoyles glide on air currents, and need to jump off high places or find rising hot air to leave the ground. Nominally, at least. They swoop and swerve very high upwards whenever the plot requires that they do so. Still, they can't manage a vertical or running takeoff, or hover.
- Logically they shouldn't be able to hover, but yet they still do from time to time.
- Word of God is that they can't hover. Unfortunately, some of the animators never got the memo.
- Samurai Jack learns to: "Not fly. Jump good." So good, in fact, that he's jumping around not just nimbly-bimbly from tree to tree by the end of the episode, but between individual leaves on trees in the canopy of a forest. However, later episodes severely restrict his jumping skill.
- In "I Am Legion" of Justice League Unlimited, Fire is carrying Flash after bailing out of their Javelin while battling robot condors. Flash tells Fire to drop him so that she can go help Hawkgirl, who is struggling in her battle with one of the condors, and Fire reluctantly does so after Flash gives her a smile and tells her to trust him. When Fire mentions this to Shayera, she says, "You know he can't fly, right?" He manages to improvise a quick way to "fly" on the way down:
Flash: Hey guys, look! I'm just like a helicoptor-*WHAM*...Well, sort of like a helicoptor.
- Seanbaby points out instances where this made Hawkman of Superfriends so useless. He also noted events where Off-Model animation allowed Flash and Batman to fly under their own power.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Azula has used her fire for a rocket-jump on several occasions. Pretty much any firebender with enough skill can fly during Sozin's comet, as well. And Aang has that whole glider/Airbender thing.
- In addition, Katara did an Iceman-style ice-slide in the finale, and Earthbenders often raise themselves with columns. In fact, Toph seems to be able to launch herself with one of these columns if she moves it fast enough. Airbenders can fly around on pockets of air. Essentially, benders of any element can do Not Quite Flight in some way.
- Multi Man of The Impossibles can "fly" by duplicating himself, disappearing, duplicating himself, disappearing, and so on.
- In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Batman's cape becomes a rocket-powered glider at the touch of a button.
- Starlight, Rainbow Brite's horse, can gallop on rainbows as if on solid ground. This is always referred to in-universe as flying, although since Rainbow can create rainbows and the standard course of a rainbow is through the air, it's a distinction without a difference.
- In Xiaolin Showdown, putting the Eye of Dashi onto the hilt of the Sword of Storms gave the sword the power to fly around, and the user with if by holding on. The same goes for the Serpent's Tail, which also made you intangible.
- NASA's Space Shuttle generates 37 million horsepower at lift-off, and achieves a ground speed of 17,000 MPH to reach orbit, but has to come back to Earth unpowered, as a glider. The main engines are useless without the giant External (fuel) Tank. The shuttle gets one chance, and one chance only, at landing.
- Why were the Wright Brothers considered the first to actually pull off manned flight, even though powered heavier-than-air aircraft had been around for at least ten to fifteen years before the Flyer? The reason for this was because even though other aircraft managed to get airborne, they couldn't manage anything more than a short, uncontrollable hop. At the time, it was thought that this was due to insufficient engine power, but the real cause of the problem was that many of these aircraft had no means of elevation control. So while other inventors went on to build more powerful and lighter engines, the Wright Brothers primarily focused on developing more efficient aerodynamics for their aircraft and the three-axis control scheme that is still basically in use today.
- One should remember, however, that the Wright Brothers are not acknowledged as the first to actually pull off manned flight everywhere. France and Brazil both disconsider their efforts, having Santos Dummont as the inventor of the airplane.
- Gliding as a form of locomotion turns up in a wide range of vertebrates, from mammals (flying squirrels, sugar gliders, colugos) to reptiles (draco lizards, flying geckos, Chrysopelea tree snakes) to amphibians (flying frogs) to fishes (flying fish, halfbeaks). Still more powered-flight species will glide as a means of conserving energy, and several climbing species (cats, sifaka) possess a limited ability to "parachute" to slow their descent in the event of an accidental fall.