HighUpIceUp High Up Ice-Up YKTTW Discussion

High Up Ice-Up
Fly too high, and your wings will freeze up from the cold.
(permanent link) added: 2012-07-13 08:06:09 sponsor: Artemis92 (last reply: 2013-08-08 20:09:08)

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The higher you go, the colder the air gets. The logical extreme of this results in ice forming on anything that gets too high up; birds, jets, jetpacks, anything. This is a common event in early aviation stories, creating suspense as the co-pilot or a passenger must go out on the wing or tail to dislodge the ice. This can also be invoked, as a sort of inverted Wronski Feint. Compare and contrast Icarus Allusion.




  • Pokémon: One episode of the anime sees this happen to a brave Pidgey.




[[folder:Classical Mythology]]

  • Interestingly, the Greek tale of Icarus and Daedalus inverts this: As both are flying over the sea with their fake wings, the former flies up too close to the sun, something that the latter warned not to do since it could melt the glue for the wing construction and make the wings break. Predictably enough, Icarus ultimately fell to the sea and perished. As ever, though, Science Marches On; we now know that high altitude doesn't (exactly) mean increase in heat, but rather the reverse.



  • Iron Man: Played straight, and later invoked against Obadiah Stane.
  • Gamera Vs Viras (AKA Destroy All Planets): At the end of the movie, Gamera is impaled by the head of the Big Bad. He flies high up into the atmosphere, causing the Big Bad to freeze to death.
  • In the 2003 Hulk movie, the pilot of a fighter jet that the Hulk has grabbed onto does a variation on this to get him to let go-- he flies straight up until the cold and lack of oxygen cause the Hulk to pass out.



  • In Tarnsman of Gor, Tarl takes his tarn (a giant bird that some warriors ride) extremely high up; he doesn't realize how high he is until the tarn starts to struggle with the thin air and ice crystals hit him in the face. Then he lets the tarn descend to a more manageable altitude.
  • In I Shall Wear Midnight, Tiffany keeps her broomstick tethered to herself on a piece of string because if she ties it to a bush, some kid is likely to steal it and fly so high this trope would come into play.



  • From Pink Floyd's "Learning to Fly":
    Ice is forming on the tips of my wings
    Unheeded warnings I thought I thought of everything
    No navigator to guide my way home
    Unladened, empty and turned to stone


[[folder:Real Life]]

  • Truth in Television: Icing on the wings is a very real danger of high-altitude flight.
    • Also, severe storm clouds form hail because powerful updrafts can reach as high as 50,000 feet. Hang glider pilots have gotten sucked into storm cells and encrusted with ice.

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