Two variations right here.
The classic Flying
pose: stretched out, with one or both arms forward of/above the head. In both cases, this creates the illusion of 'obvious' aerodynamicness, as the resulting shape looks vaguely bullet or gooselike, since the human body tends to look very silly in flight otherwise.
's catch phrase, originated on radio
to indicate to the audience when he was taking off, in his earlier cartoons and comics.
Anime and Manga
- Astro Boy: It's an iconic pose of The Mighty Atom.
- The Dragon Ball series have flying poses of all kinds: hands extended (curled into fists or kept straight), hands back, one hand stretched, etc.
- Tsuna from Katekyo Hitman Reborn! uses his flames as a propellant, like the Iron Man example below, as such depending on where he needs his thrust he will point his hands in that direction.
- Starbrand, Marvel's New Universe hero subverted this once or twice. Once while depressed the character was flying while in a classic moping pose, legs crossed as if sitting 'indian style', elbows on his knees and his cheeks resting on his hands.
- Superman himself, of course.
- Golden and early Silver Age Superman artist Wayne Boring's flight style for Superman was quite unique: he would draw flight scenes with Superman standing completely upright and in a running/jogging pose.
- Christopher Reeve flew gliders as a hobby and used that experience to make Superman's flying feel more believable in his films.
Film - Animated
- Subverted two times in With Strings Attached. John wouldn't dare pose like this in flight; he'd probably drop right out of the sky. He usually hooks his thumbs in the waistband or belt loops of whatever pants he's wearing. And Paul, just after receiving Super Strength and thinking he's been turned into Superman, leaps into the air yelling the phrase—only to discover, several thousand feet up, that he can't actually fly. Good thing he's Nigh Invulnerable.
Film - Live Action
- The Iron Giant does this as an (in-universe) tribute to Superman. The rocket-powered giant really doesn't need to do this, but Hogarth insists for style purposes.
- Metroman usually uses this pose when flying in Megamind. When Hal Stewart is given Metroman's powers, he initially flies like he's driving a car, until Megamind admonishes him to "be more like Metroman." Given his inexperience, though, he spends a good bit of his airtime spinning and flailing around.
- Disney's Peter Pan doesn't give a second thought to aerodynamics and is able to fly backwards, upside down, or while pretending to run on clouds.
- There is a Disney Channel Original Movie with this title, about a family of African-American superheroes. Those who can fly generally assume this position.
- Averted in Iron Man, who keeps his hands back to use his palm-mounted repulsors as flight stabilizers.
- Man of Steel is the adaptation that really gives you the sense that Superman doesn't do this just because, but he does it because it helps him. He actively flies in this pose almost every time he needs to really pick up speed. It also seems to help him guide his flight path as well as stabilized his flight similar to a rudder. Since in this movie Superman flys evidently by some sort of gravity/telekinesis field, its possible that the outstretch arms help keep this "field" stable.
- Averted in much of The Matrix film trilogy, as Neo generally "does his Superman thing" with arms to his side. Later, in The Matrix Revolutions, Neo and Smith exchange their flight poses to meet the need for fighting.
- Before that The Rocketeer flew the same way, for roughly the same reason (although he lacked the hand-mounted stabilizers).
- In 1984's Supergirl, director Jeannot Szwarc deliberately tried to avoid making the flight scenes similar to those in the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, opting instead for a more "feminine" ballet-inspired take.
- Dave Barry wrote about Superman in one of his columns, wondering why Superman always flew in this pose. Why not fly in a sitting position and read a newspaper while you go?
- Peter Pan doesn't say it straight, but it is strongly implied that you can't fly with one hand bound behind your back.
- That, and it's hard to have happy thoughts while being fed to a crocodile.
- The first time in The Greatest American Hero that Ralph Hinkley tries to use his alien-powered supersuit to fly, a young bystander helpfully explains to him that he has to adapt this pose to get airborne. It works, sort of.
- Kamen Rider Skyrider
- The Ninja Megafalconzord from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
- Averted in Nightman, who uses an anti-gravity belt to fly. He flies in a mostly vertical pose (sometimes at a 45-degree angle).
- In a parody sketch on Saturday Night Live, a superhero was chastised by her Super Team for, among other things, failure to assume the "proper" flying position; she flew while standing upright.
- When City of Heroes added flight poses, one was the classical one knee bent, one fist forward Up, Up and Away! pose, and another was the both hands forward "high dive" one.
- The characters of Lyrical Nanoha typically don't fly in this manner, but in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha As Portable: The Gears of Destiny, the ever flashy Large Ham Levi once decided to adopt the one arm outstretched◊ pose when she joins her fellow Material Stern in her flight towards a Suicide Mission against the Unbreakable Darkness.
- Super Mario Galaxy. The flight power from the Red Stars seems to be centered in Mario's hands, and he needs to hold them outward to fly or hover.
- Of course, arms-out is his standard flight pose in games with flight power-ups.
- One theory is that this is because one-arm-up is already taken for his jumping pose, and his arms are too stubby to look aerodynamic or cool if he holds them both over his head.
- Parodied in XCOM: Enemy Unknown: when an operative uses the Grappling Hook to reach a higher ground, they sometimes quip "Up, up, and away!" while being pulled up—with their right hand naturally outstretched, because said hook is built into their Powered Armor's arm.
- Parody superhero blog 'Sliced Bread 2' devotes some thought to flying poses here. Among the types he identifies are 'classic superman', 'I'm an airplane' and 'braced on barstools'.
- In "Ayla and the Tests" of the Whateley Universe, Phase (after a couple months of having powers) is ''still' learning how to fly without having serious steering and angular momentum problems. He gets major grief from some other students because he's seen flying in the 'supergirl' posture.
- In keeping with the series' love for metahumor, at one point Generator tries out several different flying poses, including the two-fisted "Superman" style and the one-arm-forward "Supergirl" posture.
- Optimus Primal did this a lot in the first season of Beast Wars, before he got proper flight modes.
- Season three had his flight mode stuck in the "both arms forward" position, replacing his head with G1 Prime's spark cockpit.
- The title character of Captain Planet and the Planeteers does this, as shown in the image provided.
- Danny from Danny Phantom who does it often. The same rule applies to his Opposite-Sex Clone and the Big Bad. Not a lot of ghost baddies do this though, must be more of a hero thing.
- Freakazoid! subverts this. He attempts this pose, but gets told "Freakazoid, you can't fly!" This is followed by Freakazoid running around (often completely aimlessly) with both arms stretched over his head and making "whoosh" sounds to simulate flying anyway.
- In the first Legion of Super-Heroes animated episode, the novice Clark Kent is brought to the future. As he has been keeping everything under wraps, he hasn't flown yet — but the Legion needs him at full capacity. He spends most of the episode careening about and crashing — until Brainiac 5 tells him to adopt the traditional pose — for aerodynamic reasons. It takes him a while to get the hang of it, though. And his own flight ring.
- Even though they're miniature winged horses rather than humanoids, pegasus ponies (usually Rainbow Dash) in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic often do this when flying fast.
- Peter from Peter Pan & the Pirates would frequently fly forwards, backwards, in a sitting position, sideways, upside-down....as characters go, Peter just loves to show off, in any incarnation!
- The Powerpuff Girls
- In The Ren & Stimpy Show, Powdered Toast Man inverts the trope by flying backwards in the pose. At least once, he did it while upright.
- WordGirl uses this constantly.
- This pose (more or less) is briefly assumed at the end of the recovery phase of swimming the butterfly stroke, which is coincidentally sometimes called "fly" for short.
- In the sixties, some ski jumpers used to use a pose rather like this in the air, with both arms up.