Flying through the air is one of the most common powers wielded by superheroes and supervillains. Insider takes a look at the history of flying characters in TV and movies, and how improvements in special effects and stunt techniques have led to more and more believable flight on screen.
Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a manta ray?!? Robotics company Festo turned up at a convention with this unique and amazing metallic drone that moves through the air like it’s swimming underwater. It can be seen flying alongside a pair of chrome dolphins in this video.
Dollar Flight Club Premium Plus+ gives you lifetime access to the best travel deals around the globe and alerts you instantly when they pop up. And not just economy fares. You’ll save on premium economy and business class too. You’ll also get perks and discounts from Dollar Flight Club partners and loads of travel tips.
Wingsuit flyer Jeb Corliss has flown into some very tight places. He recently dropped into the Italian Dolomites, where he zoomed into an area known as the Death Star Run. Though Jeb didn’t use The Force, and there wasn’t a vulnerability in the mountain’s thermal exhaust port. Here’s a 360º view of the same location.
While floating through the air on a paraglider, this man was joined by another air traveler – a big old vulture. The bird took a moment to rest its wings in mid-air, landing on the glider’s frame and checking out the pilot’s feet. Astute viewers will notice the leather band on the vulture’s leg, so it was probably trained to do this.
For aviation safety reasons, there are strict limits on how high you can fly a drone. But the guys at IronMan FPV got special permission from local authorities to take their DJI FPV drone to an altitude of 4500 meters – or nearly 15,000 feet. They put it into a freefall at around 3:13 to save battery on the way back down.
Tom Scott took to the skies to fly with a gaggle of geese. Thanks to microlight pilot Christian of FlywithBirds, they became unofficial members of the flock and got close enough to touch them by flying at the same speed. Not only are the geese unafraid of his aircraft, they treat Christian as a member of their family.
Jet packs might seem like a novelty, but this video from Gravity shows how their jet suits could save lives. With poor visibility that would ground helicopters, Company founder Richard Browning flew to the summit of a 3100-foot mountain to simulate a rescue mission, getting a medic on the scene in less than 4 minutes.
There’s nothing funny about in-flight safety. Except for the in-flight safety spoof Ryan Reynolds made for British Airways, now serving Aviation American Gin. “I’ve tried every gin on the planet, and it is, hands down, the best,” says Reynolds. “Also, I don’t recommend trying every gin on the planet; just stick with this one.”
While taking an ultralight for a scenic flight, pilot Romain Jantot and his passenger were greeted by an unexpected companion. Apparently, this cat decided to crawl inside the airplane’s wing before take-off and got a free flight out of the deal. The kitty seemed relatively unphased by the wind and altitude.
We already know that the view from a helicopter’s spinning rotor can be incredibly dizzying. That’s why we’re happy that Chuck Aaron Aerobatics recorded this blade spin POV at 240 fps, then slowed it to 30 fps, giving us a more digestible look at what a helicopter blade sees as it takes to the skies.
We’re still waiting for the jetpacks that sci-fi stories promised, but flying cars are here. AirCar Prototype 1 has received a Certificate of Airworthiness with production models due in 2023. The push of a button transforms the two-seater between car and aircraft modes in three minutes.
We’ve seen the airport at Antarctica’s Troll Research Station. Now Extreme Aviation Iceland gives us a first-person view from the cockpit as an Icelandair Boeing 767 comes in for a landing and faces the frigid conditions at one of the world’s Southernmost air strips. Stick around to the end to see them take back off.
We’ve seen an eye-popping top-down perspective of the Pyramids of Giza before. Now witness this world wonder from a different angle, as Red Bull athletes Fred Fugen, Vincent Cotte, and Mike Swanson fly incredibly close to the Pyramid of Khafre thanks to their streamlined new wingsuits.
The Jetson ONE is a single-seat flying machine that works like a giant quadrotor drone. Previously, we got a look at a test flight in an open field, now let’s go for a more scenic flight along a forest trail. It’s not as quick as the speeder bikes in Return of the Jedi, but it’s the closest you can get in real life.
A paramotor is a single-person flying machine with a parachute wing to keep it aloft and a large fan to propel it. Aviation buff Peter Sripol wanted to see if it was possible to create a version powered by a bunch of individual drone motors instead, and as you can see from the thumbnail, he succeeded. It’s insanely loud though.
Ever wonder what those balls are on aerial power lines? They’re used to prevent small aircraft from running into wires. What’s more interesting is how those balls get installed. Watch as this brave lineman sits on the edge of a helicopter platform, holding the ball between his legs as he heads into the sky and places the ball.
Electromagnets can be very powerful. They’ve even been used to get roller coasters and trains rolling and to launch fighter jets. Tom Stanton made a miniature system of homebrew linear synchronous motors which use electromagnetism to propel a small sled and launch various items including a hot dog and a paper airplane.
Filmmaker Dustin Farrell captured this awe-inspiring footage of an F-22 Raptor aircraft as it was piloted through the skies by Maj. Joshua “Cabo” Gunderson. The 1000 FPS Phantom Flex4K slow-motion video shows every minute detail of the wake turbulence left behind by the fighter and its powerful jets.
Fashion design house Burberry celebrates its love of the outdoors, discovering new places, and its FW21 collection with a wild and inventive short film. Using a mix of live-action and VFX trickery, the film places its performers in a surreal world where they can fly through the air like skydivers, but without jumping out of an airplane.
Red Bull stunt pilot Dario Costa is now the first person to ever fly a plane through two tunnels back-to-back. His flight only lasted 43.44 seconds, but the 1.4-mile flight between Istanbul’s Çatalca Tunnels is truly a thing of beauty. The fact that he took off from inside of the first tunnel is equally mind-blowing.
The flight between Scotland’s Papa Westray and Westray islands is incredibly short, covering a distance of 2 kilometers in less than 90 seconds. But it does actually serve a purpose. Tom Scott took flight, and let San Denby from Wendover Productions narrate instead of annoying people on the flight with his own explanation.
Pilot Stefan Langer takes us on a fly-along in his single-seat glider, as he gets tugged along a runway and uses winds to carry his plane into the mountains of Austria. Around the 12-minute mark, he reaches the edge of the alpine range, eventually passing over the ski resorts of the Kitzsteinhorn and Hintertuxer glaciers.
This short video from Pilot Yellow provides an incredibly concise and easy to understand explanation of the basics of helicopter flight, using a small Guimbal Cabri G2 chopper to demonstrate. While it doesn’t go into the complexities of weather or flight safety, it’s a great primer on what all of those controls do.
We’ve caught glimpses inside of airplane cockpits, mostly when boarding or deplaning. In this video from Bjornpilot, he takes us on a tour of the flight crew rest quarters, the avionics bay, and part of the cargo hold of an Airbus 350 jumbo jet. The sheer amount of computer equipment and wiring down there is incredible.