Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How to Fly - Aerobatic Styles

For an introduction to How to Fly, click here, and to see the first chapter, "Takeoff and Landing," click here. Below, dream flyers share a range of aeronautical maneuvers.

Toy Plane Steering

My parents have a house up in Clear Lake. I start out on top of the mountain and I have one of those balsa flying planes in my hand. When I move the plane, my body moves in the same direction. I fly looking down so I can always see where I'm going, and I always land in the water.   - Chris Van Horn, Age 21, Guitar Player

The Vertical Hover

I've been flying all my life, and I'm so accustomed to it that I don't pay much attention to how I do it. I know I'm standing upright. I just sort of go this way and that way. I don't know how I steer—it's effortless.

My dad, who was a Navy flier, was a dream flier too, and we used to talk about our dream flying experiences. He told me that the first time he piloted a plane, he looked down and had an overwhelming sense of deja vu—he'd already done it before, in his dreams.   - Dan Seymour, Age 42, Owner, Aarco Transmissions, Oakland, CA


I fly with a group of people in a V-formation, and I'm always at the head of the V. I'm the head goose. I don't know who the people behind me are. The landscape I fly over looks like the African veldt. I can coast and bounce along, come down, spring up—sort of like those movies you see as a kid with aerial shots of giraffes or antelopes in the wild.   - Paul Supton, Age 57, Labor Lawyer


I stay upright when I fly and use hand movements to get around. It's sort of like sculling in water ballet—it's a little thing with the arm. I don't go up a fantastic distance, maybe thirty or forty feet, just above tree level. I know because I've had to watch out for power lines.   - Chris Carroll, Age 51, Artist

Adrenaline Swoops

I like to dive, to swoop down. I do it for the adrenaline rush. I like changing my level and direction. I can do it at will, for fun, sort of like playing while flying.  - Julie Johnson, Age 36, Director of Education, New Jersey State Aquarium

Winged Flight

I have wings on my ankles that help me fly, and when I want to steer I move my arms like this.   - Tim Sage, Age 9, Third Grader

Contour Cruising

I'm bigger than usual, so I can go across lots and lots of terrain. I sort of hover over grasslands and rolling hills, following the contours of the land. I can feel the grass as I whoosh by. I never really thought of this as flying.   - Anne Jennings, Age 30-something, Project Manager, Exploratorium

Elegant Arm Flapping

I flap my arms very slowly. This has nothing to do with staying aloft or the physics of flight, it's more a matter of style. The best is when I fly in space, looking at galaxies. This is what I'd like to do when I die.   - Kevin McGowan, Age 47, Head Paralegal, U.C. Berkeley

Never-Never Navigation

I fly like Peter Pan. I just sort of lift off and lean to steer. In the morning, after I wake up, I always jump off my bed to see if I can fly. I always fly over water. You know the roof of my house? I fly that high above the water. I don't know how many feet that is.   - Julie Richter, Age 11, Third Grader


I'm just three or four feet off the ground. There isn't any sensation of taking off, I just start off tumbling from above or jump up and start rolling. Since I am never very high, landing is a non-issue—I can just sort of alight. Because it's something you can easily do in water, it was something I was able to do in the air in my dream. If I kept in motion I wouldn't fall, so if I rolled with a fall I could keep rolling indefinitely in the air.   - Sam Hurwitt, Age 30, Writer, Arts Editor, Express

Moon Walk

I'm way up above you guys and you wish you could fly like me. I'm floating over the neighborhood and the other kids are jealous, like when you're riding a bicycle. Takeoff is a mind thing—you have to have confidence to do it. I can take giant steps too, like moon walking, when I get tired of the other way. - Eric Buechley, Age 56, Tree Surgeon

Next segment: "Locations" 


  1. Two nights ago DH had a dream where he was in a mall holding a pair of magic scissors. All he had to do to fly was hold the scissors up in the air and lift up his feet, and the air currents would carry him along through the mall.

  2. Fantastic! That would make a great graphic. Thanks for the post.


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