How to Describe Flying in Writing (21 Best Tips + Examples)

Whether your characters have wings, ride on magical creatures, or utilize futuristic technology, the art of crafting a memorable flying scene is a skill worth mastering.

Here is how to describe flying in writing:

Describe flying in writing by utilizing vivid descriptions, understanding the mechanics of flight, playing with perspectives, and diving into emotional depths. Your characters can glide on wings, soar on magical creatures, or navigate advanced aircraft.

In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to describe flying in writing.

What Is Flying in Writing?

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Digital man flying through clouds - How to Describe Flying in Writing
I made this image – How to Describe Flying in Writing

Flying scenes are segments in a story where characters take to the skies.

This can occur either on their own or with the aid of some external force or device.

These scenes serve various purposes: they can introduce a moment of awe, facilitate rapid transportation, showcase aerial battles, or even offer a space for introspective reflection against the backdrop of the vast sky.

From a literary perspective, flying scenes can symbolize freedom, escape, or elevation above mundane concerns.

Example: In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry’s first Quidditch match introduces readers to the thrills and dangers of broomstick flying. The scene is not just about the sport, but also about Harry finding a skill he excels in, experiencing moments of pure exhilaration, and rising above his challenges, both literally and figuratively.

Types of Flying in Writing

There are many different types of flying writing.

Here are 10 types and descriptions:

  1. Solo Flights – Emphasize feelings of solitude, freedom, or reflection, often serving as moments of introspection or personal discovery.
  2. Group Flights – Represent camaraderie, coordination, and shared purpose, emphasizing teamwork or collective goals.
  3. Aerial Battles – High-paced action scenes filled with tension, danger, and dynamic aerial maneuvers.
  4. First Flight – The initial experience of flying, often filled with wonder, trepidation, or a mix of emotions.
  5. Futuristic or Space Flights – Flights in sci-fi settings involving spaceships, advanced aircraft, or other futuristic means of air travel.
  6. Magical Flights – Characters flying through spells, enchanted objects, or inherent magical abilities.
  7. Riding on Creatures – Characters mount and fly on mythical or real creatures.
  8. Escape or Pursuit Flights – Characters fly to evade danger, pursue someone, or escape captivity, typically filled with urgency.
  9. Romantic Flights – Two characters share a flight, often deepening their bond or leading to intimate moments.
  10. Mystical or Dreamlike Flights – Flights with a surreal or ethereal quality, often showcasing strange landscapes or otherworldly phenomena.

21 Tips to Write Memorable Flying Scenes

You don’t want to just describe flying in writing – you want to craft unforgettable flying scenes that readers love.

1. Understand the Mechanics of Flight

Before writing about flying, it’s essential to understand the basics of flight.

Research the physics involved, especially if your characters are using wings or other physical means to fly.

Knowing how birds or airplanes achieve lift, maintain altitude, and navigate can add authenticity to your scenes.

Note: I’ve included some sources at the end of this article to help you begin your research.

Example: As Lila extended her wings, she adjusted the angle of her primary feathers, catching the wind currents just right to lift her effortlessly into the sky.

2. Use Vivid Descriptions

The key to a memorable flying scene is making the reader feel like they’re soaring alongside the characters.

Use vivid descriptions to paint the sky, the feeling of the wind, the view from above, and the sensation of freedom.

I’ve often found that tapping into sensory experiences – the rush of air, the warmth of sunlight, the vastness of the horizon – can create a more immersive scene.

Example: The sun painted the sky in hues of orange and pink, creating a kaleidoscopic backdrop as Marlon soared, feeling the cool brush of the evening breeze against his cheeks.

3. Incorporate Personal Experience

Drawing from personal experiences can make your flying scenes more relatable.

If you’ve ever been on a plane, paragliding, skydiving, or even just on a swing, try to recall those sensations and emotions.

I remember the first time I flew in a small airplane.

The mixture of excitement, trepidation, and awe is something I often channel into my writing.

Example: The first time I mounted a gryphon, its feathery mane tickled my hands, and the sheer drop beneath us made my stomach do somersaults, echoing that childhood roller coaster ride.

4. Vary Pacing

Flying scenes can range from calm, leisurely glides to heart-stopping, rapid descents.

Varying the pacing within the scene can create a more dynamic narrative.

Sometimes, the slow buildup to a sudden drop can be just as thrilling as a high-speed chase.

Example: In the movie How to Train Your Dragon, Hiccup’s flights on Toothless range from serene glides where they’re connected with nature, to adrenaline-pumping dives and sharp turns during battles.

5. Play with Perspective

Changing the point of view can offer fresh insights into the flying scene.

An onlooker’s perspective might emphasize the grandeur and scale, while the flyer’s perspective will dive deep into the personal emotions and sensations of the flight.

Example: Below, the villagers looked up in awe, tiny figures pointing at the majestic beast and its rider that blotted out the sun for the briefest moment.

6. Highlight Challenges

Every flight can’t be smooth sailing.

Introducing challenges like turbulent weather, unexpected obstacles, or equipment malfunction can add tension and drama.

From my personal experiences with storytelling, I’ve noticed that readers tend to root more for characters facing and overcoming aerial adversities.

Example: A sudden gust of wind forced Jae to veer off course, his wings flapping vigorously to counteract the powerful downdraft trying to pull him into the raging storm below.

7. Embrace Emotional Depth

Flying can evoke a myriad of emotions, from joy and exhilaration to fear and vertigo.

Dive deep into your character’s psyche and explore these emotions fully. When I write, I often ask myself, “What would be my rawest emotion in this aerial situation?”

Example: Flying wasn’t just about feeling the wind; for Elara, every ascent was a release, a momentary escape from the weight of her past and the chains of her regrets.

8. Incorporate Dialogue

Conversations during flight can add depth to the characters and their relationships.

These dialogues can range from technical instructions to deep philosophical discussions, depending on the scene’s context.

Example: “Lean into the turn, not against it,” yelled Ren as the two of them spiraled downwards, their wings nearly touching.

9. Use Metaphors and Similes

Metaphors and similes can make flying scenes more relatable by comparing the experience to something familiar.

Drawparallels with everyday experiences to make the sensation of flight more palpable for readers.

Example: Finn soared through the skies, free and untethered, like a leaf carried by an autumn breeze.

10. Set Clear Stakes

Whether it’s a casual flight, an escape, or a battle, make sure the stakes are clear.

Why are the characters flying? What do they stand to gain or lose?

Setting clear stakes will engage the reader more deeply in the scene.

Example: With the enemy fortress in sight and the magic amulet’s power waning, Lara knew this flight was not just about speed, but survival.

11. Research Real-Life Flying Accounts

Reading memoirs of pilots, skydivers, or even bird watchers can provide insights and enrich your flying scenes.

Real-life accounts offer a depth of detail and emotion that can be invaluable.

When I read about Amelia Earhart or Beryl Markham, I find a treasure trove of sensations, challenges, and experiences that I can weave into my narratives.

Example: Drawing inspiration from old pilot journals, Kaden adjusted the thrusters, recalling tales of daring nosedives and aerial acrobatics.

12. Utilize Soundscapes

The auditory experience of flying can be as evocative as the visual.

The roar of engines, the rustling of wings, the whistle of the wind, or even the eerie silence at high altitudes can all bring your scene alive for your reaeders.

I’s often the sounds described that stay with me, painting an auditory picture of the flight.

Example: In Ray Bradbury’s The Rocket Man, the sounds of the rockets and the interplay with the character’s emotions create a hauntingly beautiful atmosphere that elevates the narrative.

13. Play with Light and Shadow

The interplay of light, especially when flying close to the sun or stars, can create visually stunning scenes.

Shadows too, cast either by the flying object or on the flying object, can add drama and depth.

Example: As dawn broke, the golden rays illuminated one side of the Phoenix, casting a shimmering reflection on the clouds below.

14. Use Technology and Gear

If your scene involves man-made flying machines or futuristic technology, go into the details.

Describe the cockpit, the gears, the interfaces.

Such intricacies can ground your narrative in its setting, be it historical, modern, or futuristic.

As a tech enthusiast myself, I often find joy in researching and detailing the tools that aid flight.

Example: Aria toggled the airboard’s anti-gravity mode, feeling the hum beneath her feet as she prepared to dive into the cloud canyon.

15. Address Physical Sensations

G-forces, the sensation of dropping, the chill of high altitudes, or even the potential discomfort of prolonged flights can all be explored.

I often consider the physical toll flying would take on the body and integrate that into my scenes.

Example: The initial jolt of lift-off always caught Kai off guard, a momentary feeling of weightlessness followed by the adrenaline of acceleration.

16. Create Contrast with Ground Scenes

Juxtaposing flying scenes with ground scenes can emphasize the freedom and transcendence of flight.

Ground scenes, especially if they involve confinement or restriction, can make the subsequent flight feel even more liberating.

Example: In J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, the contrast between the confinements of the Darling children’s nursery and the freedom of flying to Neverland accentuates the magic and liberation of flight.

17. Add Cultural or Historical Context

Incorporate cultural beliefs, myths, or historical events related to flight.

This not only adds depth but can also anchor your scene within a specific cultural or temporal context.

Drawing from legends or history has always enriched my narratives, making them resonate more deeply with informed readers.

Example: In the traditions of the Skyfolk, the inaugural flight was a rite of passage, a test of courage, and a celebration of coming of age.

18. Emphasize the Landing

The culmination of a flight scene is as critical as the flight itself.

Landings can be smooth or catastrophic, expected or unforeseen.

The way characters land – and their reactions upon landing – can serve as a metaphor for the entire journey.

Example: As the griffin began its descent, the world below seemed to rush up to meet them, every detail sharpening until their feet touched the soft grass with a gentle thud.

19. Use Flight as a Transformative Experience

Many stories use flight as a transformative journey, where characters evolve or gain insights.

This transformative nature can be either physical, emotional, or both.

Example: By the time Zara touched ground, the world seemed different, not because it had changed, but because she had. The flight had gifted her a new perspective on her life with Toby.

20. Introduce Ethical Dilemmas

In tales where characters have the power of flight, there’s potential to introduce ethical dilemmas.

Do they use this ability for personal gain, for the greater good, or perhaps misuse it entirely?

These dilemmas can add complexity to your characters and plot.

Example: Given the power of unbridled flight, Dax often wondered if he should use it to scout for the rebels or stay hidden, lest he draw unwanted attention to his family.

21. Leave Room for Mystery

While detailed descriptions can make a scene vivid, sometimes, it’s the unsaid or the hinted-at that captures the imagination.

Leaving certain elements to the reader’s imagination can make your flying scene even more enchanting.

Example: Some say when you fly above the Forbidden Clouds, you hear whispers of ancient tales, but every aviator who’s been there returns with a knowing smile and sealed lips.

Here is a video I put together about how to describe flying in writing:

YouTube Video by Writing Secrets – How to Describe Flying in Writing

How Would You Describe Flying?

Flying, at its core, is the epitome of liberation from the earth’s gravitational pull.

It’s a sensation that transcends the grounded reality, lifting one into an expansive realm of boundless skies and horizons.

The act of flying is a blend of adrenaline and serenity, where the rush of wind meets the calm of the open sky.

It is a dance of physics and dreams, a heady mix of control and surrender.

Example: In Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, the act of flying kites, and especially the moment of letting them cut loose, captures the essence of freedom, competition, and the bittersweet nature of letting go.

How Do You Describe a Plane Flight in a Story?

Describing a plane flight involves melding the technicalities of aviation with the emotional and sensory experiences of the passengers.

Begin with the anticipatory hum of engines.

Continue with the gentle lurch as the aircraft accelerates on the runway, the weightlessness as it lifts off, and the steady hum that ensues.

Add layers with the changing landscape below, the curve of the horizon, and the shifting colors of the sky.

Factor in the contained environment inside the plane: the soft glow of reading lights, murmured conversations, or the distant cry of a baby.

Example: In her journey, as the plane ascended, the city below shrunk to a patchwork of lights. Inside, the world was a bubble of hushed whispers and the rhythmic hum of engines. The gentle turbulence felt like the plane was wading through celestial waves, soaring ever onward into the velvety embrace of the night.

How Do You Describe a Plane in Writing?

Describing a plane involves detailing its design, purpose, and aura.

Begin with its structure: the sleek fuselage, the wide wingspan, and the tail fin.

Dive into its color, markings, or any distinctive features.

Depending on the context, you might emphasize the roar of its engines, the gleam of sunlight on its metallic surface, or the symbolism it carries as a marvel of human engineering.

Example: The jet stood poised on the tarmac, a sleek silver arrow against the azure sky. Its wings stretched out, as if eager to embrace the heavens. The roar of its engines was both a promise and a challenge, a testament to mankind’s age-old desire to conquer the skies.

How Do You Describe a Bird Flying in Writing?

Describing a bird in flight requires a delicate touch, capturing the grace, agility, and natural rhythm of avian motion.

Focus on the fluidity of the bird’s movements, the flapping of wings, the tilt of its head, and the curve of its trajectory.

Consider the silhouette against the sky, the play of light on its feathers, and the purpose of its flight – be it a hunt, a playful dance, or a long migration.

Example: The eagle soared majestically, its broad wings catching the sun’s golden hues. Every flap was a testament to nature’s precision, each glide a dance of balance. With keen eyes scanning below, it turned and spiraled, a regal acrobat of the skies.

30 Words to Describe Flying in Writing

Try out these words when describing flying in writing:

  1. Soaring
  2. Gliding
  3. Ascending
  4. Hovering
  5. Swooping
  6. Spiraling
  7. Elevating
  8. Skyward
  9. Freefalling
  10. Cruising
  11. Vaulting
  12. Drifting
  13. Zooming
  14. Plunging
  15. Coast
  16. Lift-off
  17. Flapping
  18. Aerodynamic
  19. Weightless
  20. Diving
  21. Alighting
  22. Ascension
  23. Thrusting
  24. Aerial
  25. Suspended
  26. Buoyant
  27. Airborne
  28. Floating
  29. Sky-diving
  30. Cresting

30 Phrases to Describe Flying in Writing

Along with the list of words above, experiiment with the following phrases to help with writing flyiing scenes:

  1. “Taking to the skies”
  2. “Breaking through clouds”
  3. “Dancing on air currents”
  4. “Rising with the thermals”
  5. “Gracefully coasting above”
  6. “Defying gravity’s pull”
  7. “Soaring like an eagle”
  8. “Cutting through the wind”
  9. “Lost in the vast blue”
  10. “Catching the updraft”
  11. “Gliding effortlessly overhead”
  12. “Floating on invisible waves”
  13. “Hovering like a hummingbird”
  14. “Circling the azure expanse”
  15. “Reaching for the heavens”
  16. “Suspended between earth and sky”
  17. “Racing against the wind”
  18. “A ballet in the atmosphere”
  19. “Navigating the sky’s highway”
  20. “Scaling new heights”
  21. “Plummeting in a daring dive”
  22. “Riding the breezy currents”
  23. “Ascending to the stratosphere”
  24. “Carried by the gusts”
  25. “Swooping down like a falcon”
  26. “Jetting across the horizon”
  27. “Feeling the world drop away”
  28. “Taking the aerial route”
  29. “Floating above worldly concerns”
  30. “Flying free and unburdened”

3 Examples of How to Write Flying Scenes

Let’s look at three examples of how to describe flying in writing in three different genres.

1. Fantasy

The dragon Elara, with her iridescent scales, unfurled her massive wings, casting enormous shadows upon the ground below.

As she took a deep breath, the winds around her began to swirl, leaves and small pebbles lifting in a miniature cyclone. With a forceful flap, Elara rose, soaring effortlessly into the clouds. Her rider, Lorian, clung to her back, the cold air biting his face as they ascended higher and higher.

Below them, the kingdom spread out like a giant patchwork quilt, and for a moment, all their troubles seemed distant and inconsequential.

2. Science Fiction

The Starship “Athena” powered up its hyper-engines, the dull hum growing louder and more insistent.

Captain Aria watched as the stars outside the viewport began to blur, streaking past as the ship prepared to jump to lightspeed. A familiar weightlessness gripped her stomach, a sensation she had come to relish.

The ship lurched slightly, and in an instant, they were hurtling through a tunnel of shimmering colors, the fabric of space-time bending around them. The vastness of the universe, with its uncharted galaxies and mysterious phenomena, awaited their exploration.

3. Historical Fiction

Amelia adjusted her leather helmet and goggles, taking a moment to feel the weight of the moment.

The biplane before her, a fragile-looking contraption of wood and fabric, represented the future. Climbing into the cockpit, she felt a mix of fear and exhilaration. As the propeller roared to life and the plane trundled down the grassy runway, a rush of wind filled her ears. Then, with a gentle lift, they were airborne.

The world below shrank, and Amelia felt the thrill of flying, of breaking barriers and defying conventions in a world on the brink of change.

Final Thoughts: How to Describe Flying in Writing

Flying scenes, when crafted with care, can transport readers into exhilarating skyward adventures.

There are a ton more articles about writing on this site.

Before you go, check out one of the blog posts on the list below.

Read This Next:


Federal Aviation Administration
National Science Foundation (Research on Flight)