Created By: thewriter on December 6, 2013 Last Edited By: thewriter on December 11, 2013

Airborne Amateur

Someone who isn't a pilot has to pilot a plane.

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Trope
Do We Have This One??
The Hero needs a quick escape but the nearest, fastest thing is a plane, and the hero does not know how to fly. He and his crew hop in anyway and they haphazardly soar away, usually while trying to outfly Mooks attacking them, or fiery columns and crumbling beams falling from the Collapsing Lair. Expect the hero's snarky Sidekick asking, "Do you even know how to fly this thing?" or even the hero asking himself, "How do you fly this thing?" Sometimes a character is given a jetpack, magically granted wings, or given the power of self-propelled flight leading to a How Do I Shot Web? situation of them jumping and attempting to fly before crashing back to earth, prior to them actually figuring out how to fly.

Closely related to Falling into the Cockpit, where a young, inexperienced character is basically given the keys to a flying machine and through a helpful dose of Beginner's Luck and Contrived Coincidences gets to keep it.

Compare to Crash Course Landing when a non-pilot has to be coached through the flying or landing of an aircraft by air traffic control or an actual pilot.

Oh, and always expect a crash landing.
Examples.

  • In Thor: The Dark World Thor takes one of the Dark Elves' flying cruisers as part of his plan to make a treasonous escape from Asgard. Loki wonders if his plan involved Thor suddenly knowing how to fly the ship. As expected, they do a lot of damage in their escape.
  • The Sorcerer's Apprentice ends with Dave and his girlfriend flying off to Paris on a giant metal eagle he'd animated with magic. He warns her that he has no idea how to land it. She laughs, and he assures her that he isn't kidding.
  • John Carter has a scene where he takes a solar-operated, flying, cycle-thing back to the Thark settlement in order to rally them for the battle at the end of the film. He has no clue how to properly fly it at first and crash lands no less than three times.
Community Feedback Replies: 15
  • December 6, 2013
    kjnoren
    Please, do not include a wick in the laconic - it tends to mess things up. The description is also written like an Example As A Thesis.
  • December 6, 2013
    randomsurfer
    The Greatest American Hero: Ralph has been given a super-suit by some aliens, which gives him super-powers, but he lost the instruction book so he dosen't know how to do anything. He gets some coaching on how to fly from a Genre Savvy kid who shows him the Up Up And Away pose along with a running start (as seen on The Adventures Of Superman). But Ralph never really gets the hang of flying, often crash-lands, and prefers running at Super Speed unless he absolutely has to fly.
  • December 6, 2013
    MaxWest
    Twilight Sparkle at the start of season 4 of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic - justified because of her new alicorn form. Twilight is definitely not used to flying or even having wings. It takes practice and coaching from Rainbow Dash to help learn the ropes.
  • December 6, 2013
    darthcaliber
    • The Gods Must Be Crazy 2 a man (forgot his name) teaches his woman (forgot her name) how to fly a biplane. She's still confused about how to manage it, but she flies away... and doesn't know how to land (since the man is left on the ground).

  • December 9, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    • In The Legend Of Korra, General Iroh must pilot a biplane to safety. Only planes had literally just been invented in the Korra universe and until just minutes before Iroh didn't only not know how to fly one, but didn't even know they existed.

    • In Captain America The First Avenger Cap takes control of Red Skull's jet plane. He ends up making a Heroic Sacrifice and crashing the plane into the ocean where the on-board bombs couldn't harm anyone.

    • After learning she could fly in Alias, the first think Jessica Jones does is almost drown because she hadn't mastered the whole steering thing, and as a result, landed herself in the beautifully polluted waters of New York City.
  • December 9, 2013
    Koveras
    • In Ace Combat 5 The Unsung War, one of the missions sees you encounter a transport plane carrying the President of Osean Federation, just as the plane's pilot is shot by a spy on board. The VIP's secretary then has to take over the controls and land the plane—though because he has very little real flying experience, your squadron basically has to make an improvised landing strip for them—with bombs.
  • December 9, 2013
    Alucard
    The music video to "Learn to Fly" by the Foo Fighters plays out like this, with the band successfully landing the plane by the end of the song.
  • December 9, 2013
    foxley
    I don't know if this counts as the plane never gets airborne, but in Live And Let Die, James Bond is attempting to escape Mr Big's thugs at an airport and leaps into the nearest vehicle; a single engine plane idling on the tarmac with a student pilot, Mrs Bell, waiting for her instructor. Bond pretends to be her instructor and Mrs Bell follows his instructions, driving around on the ground and wreaking havoc.
  • December 9, 2013
    CrypticMirror
    A specific version of Closest Thing We Got maybe? You might find examples in its wicks. Also might be a possessor of a Universal Drivers Licence
  • December 9, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In the children's book Black and Blue Magic Harry Marco is given an elixer by a traveling magic salesman which makes him sprout wings. Harry spends the summer learning to fly and then enjoying it.
  • December 10, 2013
    MetaFour
    • Three Amigos: The Amigos need to take a biplane to escape from El Guapo's army. Ned had boasted earlier about flying that same model of plane during one of his movies, but when pressed to fly it here and now, he admits that it was actually his stunt double who did the flying. Of course, since the alternative is dying, they take the plane anyway, and they get away in one piece.

    • In Chicken Run, Fowler talks frequently about the time he served in the Royal Air Force. When the chickens construct a homemade aircraft, they assume Fowler will be able to pilot it for them—and then Fowler clarifies that he was a mascot, not a pilot. They appeal to his pride and convince him to try anyway. All things considered, he does a pretty good job of it—apparently he was very observant while he was in the Force.
  • December 10, 2013
    darthcaliber
    fixed a earlier reply it's The Gods Must Be Crazy 2 not The Gods Must Be Lazy which is a trope not a movie
  • December 10, 2013
    StarSword
    Page quote:
    Henry Jones: I didn't know you could fly a plane!
    Indiana Jones: Fly, yes! Land, no!

    The Airborne Amateur may possess a Universal Drivers License.

    Film:
    • Indiana Jones:
      • In Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom the pilots bail out of Indy's plane to try and kill him. Indy takes the controls, admits he doesn't know how to fly it, and then quickly discovers the pilots emptied the fuel tank anyway.
      • In Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade Indy and his father have to leave the zeppelin in an escape plane docked to it. This time Indy says he can fly, but not land. They get attacked by German fighters, and Henry accidentally shoots their rudder full of holes, but Indy manages to get the plane on the ground with no injuries.
    • In Airplane Ted Striker is forced to take control of the airliner after the entire flight crew gets sick. Ted has flown planes before, but unfortunately they were single-engine fighters. Not quite the same thing.
  • December 11, 2013
    DAN004
    ^^ If you don't mind, could you fix it to give more info and context? It's been a while since I watched it.
  • December 11, 2013
    FlyingDuckManGenesis
    • TaleSpin:
      • Rebecca Cunningham becomes the pilot of the Sea Duck in the episode, "I Only Have Ice For You" when Baloo's pilot license becomes suspended, much to Baloo's chagrin.
      • In the episode, "A Star is Torn", Rebecca steals a sabotaged stunt plane to sacrifice herself and save Baloo. Fortunately, Baloo comes to her rescue.
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