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Call of the Wild Blue Yonder

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If only I could join you
There in the air
Floating free
Without a care
I wish I could fly
And see things with a different eye!

Perhaps one of the oldest wish dreams in existence. Whether it's longing to see things from a bird's perspective, jealousy or inspiration from seeing another do it, or just wanting to feel the sense of freedom of soaring through the sky, a lot of characters dream of flying.

The nature of how they wish to accomplish this varies from building a flying machine to longing for a pair of wings.

Like most cases with dreams, this can sometimes be a case of Be Careful What You Wish For. Other times, it's exactly what the character wanted and their story ends with them happily flying with the birds. Of course, this doesn't just apply to those who can't fly. Animals that are capable of flight but lack the knowledge (usually young ones) often wish to be able to join their fellow species in the sky. In this case, it usually ends with them finally discovering how. Frequently overlaps with Caged Bird Metaphor and Acrophobic Bird.

When a flightless bird has this dream, it's usually a Tragic Dream, although there have been some cases where, for some miraculous reason or another, it's subverted.

Subtrope of Pursue the Dream Job and Journey to the Sky. Contrast Dreams of Flying which is about literal dreams of flight. See also The Joy of First Flight for when a character gets to experience this fantasy for real.

Not to be confused with Tales from the Wild Blue Yonder.


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  • Gagarin: A caterpillar dreams of flight and tries to jump up and join the things it sees flying (first a dragonfly, then a helicopter).

    Anime & Manga 
  • The trio in The Place Promised in Our Early Days dream of building a small aircraft and visiting the tower in Ezo (Hokkaido).
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • In the episode "Fly Me to the Moon", a Pidgey named Orville dreamed of flying higher than any other Pokemon. Even Meowth was touched by the dream and decided to help him.
    • In another episode, "Let Bagons Be Bagons", a Bagon tries to learn how to fly. It eventually does so with a jetpack before evolving into Shelgon.
    • The episode "A Test in Paradise" has a Dragonair who wanted to join its fellow 'mon in flying, but didn't know the necessary move to do so. Ash, using some unconventional methods, helps it achieve flight and earns the dragon's gratitude and even catches it.

    Comic Books 
  • ElfQuest Volume 2 issue 4, in the Windkin story, it is implied that the "grandfather" has actually flown (as a child, with Windkin providing the means) while his little grandson hopes that he'll one day get to fly too.
  • Few stories in the Polish comic book series Lili Put focus on character Put's dream to "fly like a bird," trying everything from making flying machine, hang-glider, baloon or asking a sorceress to turn him into a bird. All attempts backfire in a comical way for him or his friend Lil or both.

    Fan Works 
  • In A.A. Pessimal's story of the Air Watch of Ankh-Morpork, The Price of Flight, practically every current Air Witch once looked up into the sky and thought — that is where I belong.

    Films — Animation 
  • In the holiday movie Annabelle's Wish, the title character, a young calf, after seeing Santa's reindeer, wishes to fly like them. However, after bonding with the farmer's grandson Billy, who had lost his voice in a fire, she gives up her dream and her ability to talk on Christmas so that Billy could speak again. Years later, when Annabelle is on her death bed, Santa comes and makes her into one of his reindeer and restores her voice.
  • In the "Rhapsody in Blue" segment of Fantasia 2000, the main characters watch two skaters and imagine themselves living out their dreams; for the Henpecked Husband John, that means flying like a bird.
  • Petrie, a young pteranodon from Don Bluth's The Land Before Time, tries hard to fly, but succeeds only in falling (leading to an Ironic Fear of heights). During the Final Battle with Sharptooth, he finally manages to in order to save Duckie.
  • A common theme in the works of Hayao Miyazaki — his family were airplane manufacturers, after all.
    • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind looks deeply at mankind's desire to fly, the freedom it brings and the destruction it can cause.
    • Pazu in Castle in the Sky wishes to fly to the floating castle of Laputa, which his father (an aviator) was able to briefly glimpse during a flight.
    • Kiki in Kiki's Delivery Service is a trainee witch who uses her broomstick to run a delivery service. Losing the ability to fly is a major problem for her.
    • Porco Rosso features the 'flying boatmen' of pre-World War II Italy.
    • The Wind Rises is about a short-sighted boy's dreams of flight, and revisits the dichotomy between beauty and destructiveness mentioned under Nausicaa.
  • Wise mentor Cornelius has a dream of flight, which leads him to pen diagrams and construct a scale model of a "Flapper Wingamathing" in Hanna-Barbera's Once Upon a Forest. He doesn't get the chance to build one, though, as the tragic events of the story intervene. Cornelius's three young pupils, however, construct the device out of necessity, and it works. The end credits show Cornelius aboard his invention with the young 'uns operating it.
  • In Don Bluth's The Pebble and the Penguin, Rocko, the penguin Hubie befriends on his journey, wishes to be the first penguin who can fly. In the climax, he achieves his dream in a way that doesn't make any sense when saving Hubie and Maria from falling to their deaths. Despite its illogical nature, it's pretty touching.
  • Peter Pan: The song "You Can Fly" is built on this trope.
  • This is the main plot of the movie Rio. Blu is a macaw who has spent his whole life as a pet never learning to fly. When he gets stranded in Rio, he tries to learn how and eventually does in order to save his true love from falling to her death.
  • Arthur in The Sword in the Stone mentions wishing he could fly, so Merlin turns him into a bird so he can live out his dream.
  • In A Wish for Wings that Work, Opus the penguin really wants to fly — that's his Christmas wish — and dreams about it; albeit in his dream he's a pilot aboard the crashing airplane from Lost Horizon.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Arizona Dream: Elaine is so bent on flying that she enlists the aid of her December-May boyfriend Axel to help her build a series of flying machines that would shame Wile E. Coyote — and they all fail. She's elated when somebody buys her a plane for her birthday.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: P-1-3 gives himself the name "Rocket" due to his dream of flying with his friends:
Rocket: We'll all fly away together...into the forever and beautiful sky.
  • The Blue Max begins with the hero Bruno Stracher, then a landser infantryman, looking up from the mud and sludge of the Western Front to track a biplane fighter aircraft in the sky. He realises in this moment that the sort of WW1 he wants to fight involves his transferring to the Imperial German Air Service.
  • Test pilot Cliff Secord from Touchstone Pictures' The Rocketeer has flown some developmental aircraft. When Fate delivers a prototype rocket pack unto him, Cliff becomes a literal flying man. The learning curve is much steeper than with fixed-wing aircraft, but Cliff's enthusiasm steadily raises his airworthiness.
  • I, Leonardo da Vinci, an educational film about the life of Leonardo da Vinci features a passage written by scriptwriter John Secondari and erroneously attributed to da Vinci: "For once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward. For there you have been and there will you long to return."

  • Animorphs: Every character who has the chance to turn into a bird enjoys the experience of flight quite a bit, especially early in the series before the stakes have really sunk in. David annoys Marco by loudly reveling in the sensation of flying as a golden eagle (before raising a lot of red flags by randomly killing a crow). In The Andalite Chronicles Elfangor finds bird morph to be a temporary reprieve from how horrific the situation is. Tobias is hit by this the hardest. He suffers from a crappy home life (constantly bounced from an aunt to an uncle, neither of whom care about him) and generally being maladjusted ("born with a "Kick Me" Sign" is one description) and jumps at the chance to morph a bird, allowing him to escape his problems by literally flying away. Because he's reluctant to turn back to human, he decides to go with the others into the Yeerk Pool as a hawk and suffers Mode Lock at the end of the first book. From there he has a very complicated relationship with his hawk body, which got him out of his home life problems but left him increasingly far from his humanity, but he does still love flying. He's later given his morphing ability back... but his default form is still a hawk. He can morph into his human body, but rarely does so. By then his hawk instincts mean he's even less able to function and he's usually wildly uncomfortable as a human, except when assuming the body of a pretty girl.
  • Janine Farehouse of Dinoverse finds herself in the body of a massive pterosaur. While the other three kids with her are able to adjust quickly to the capabilities of their dinosaur bodies, Janine has to put in quite a bit of practice before she can fly - at which point she leaves, believing life as a quetzalcoatlus is better than returning to her old life. While flight gives her a sense of peace and rightness she doesn't get elsewhere, the loneliness starts to get to her and she's eventually persuaded to return.
  • In Dr. Franklin's Island Semi and Miranda are presented with a false choice (no chance to say no) - which one of them will become a girl who can fly, and which will become a girl who can breathe underwater. Miranda favors bird and while pretending to be a volunteer so she can feel better she says several times that she would love to be able to fly. She has a Slow Transformation into a Humanoid Abomination, an enormous black bird still human enough to horrify - and yes, she does love flight.
  • In How to Fly with Broken Wings, Willem and Sasha both fantasise about being able to fly. Willem makes a copy of the wings Leonardo da Vinci designed, which don't work. In the end, they get their wish by flying the Spitfire they helped Archie restore.
  • Inverted in The Little Prince — the narrator wanted to be an artist but was pushed to become a pilot instead.
  • The call is strong enough for the pre-teen protagonist of Mail Order Wings that she willingly glues a pair of artificial wings to her back and drinks a tonic to make them work. Body Horror sets in when she realises they are making her body and mind become gradually more bird-like over time, and she has to decide whether the joy of flying is worth the personal price.
  • In the first part of T. H. White's The Once and Future King, Arthur expresses to Merlin a wish to fly, so Merlin turns him into a bird of prey (a merlin, naturally), and puts him in with the castle's hunting falcons.
  • In Sword Art Online, what endeared Suguha, Online Alias Leafa, to Alfheim Online was the flight mechanic due to the feeling of freedom it gives her, giving her a form of Escapism from her IRL problems. This comes up in the spin-off game Fatal Bullet, where she finds herself not enjoying GGO as much as her friends due to the lack of a flight mechanic.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Firefly: Wash grew up on a Polluted Wasteland and always dreamed of becoming a pilot to see the stars. Luckily, he succeeds.

  • The 1980 Eurovision Song Contest entry "Papa Pingouin" is, unsurprisingly, about a penguin who dreams of flying. In this case, he ultimately ends up giving up his dream in favor of staying with his family.
  • The U.S. Air Force Song (creatively titled "The U.S. Air Force Song") is best known for the first verse (the only part usually sung) which consists of a Badass Boast. The second and third verses are more this trope, about the people who love flying. The fourth and final verse, however, includes an allusion to the dangers of flying and aerial combat:
    If you'd live to be a grey-haired wonder
    Keep the nose out of the blue!

  • High Flight is a sonnet by John G. Magee, a Canadian Air Force pilot. He said he started the poem at 30,000 and finished it on the ground. (Sadly, he died in a mid-air collision three months later.)
    Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

    First lines

    ''And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
    The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
    Put out my hand, and touched the face of God
    Final lines


    Video Games 
  • Celeste from Animal Crossing is a Funny Animal owl who, despite her efforts, has never been able to learn how to fly. She explains in Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer that she became an astrologist in order to be closer to the sky.
  • In Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea, Shallotte Elminus (one of the titular Shallies) wants to learn how to fly after resident Cute Witch Wilbell uses her Flying Broomstick to rescue her. Unfortunately, Shallotte is not a witch, so as much as she tries, broom-based flight is unattainable for her. Eventually, she comes up with the Flying Board, a device powered by alchemy which allows her to finally fulfill her dream.
  • Urki from Far Cry Primal wants to fly like a bird, as Player Character Takkar finds out when visiting his tent, where he's throwing birds at the walls to find out how they fly (answer: not very well, because he's just spun them around in his hand before throwing them at the wall). Urki then sends Takkar on a Fetch Quest to obtain supplies with which Urki can build wings. Problem is, they're in prehistoric Europe, and Urki's not the cleverest caveman, so when Takkar brings him the supplies, he tries flying by sprinting off a wooden ramp holding only two handfuls of plumage. Sure enough, Urki falls like a brick, and only a convenient mound of hay cushions his fall. Miraculously, he survives falling, but from that point on, Urki never tries to fly again- instead, he tries other ideas that don't work out for him either.
  • Grandia III: The main character, Yuki, dreams of being a pilot, and want to replicate the achievement of the legendary pilot Schmidt of crossing the ocean on a plane of his own design. By the beginning of the game he has already built and crashed eighteen planes, and readies to test the nineteenth one. Eventually, aforementioned Schmidt, using Yuki's blueprints as a base, builds a plane for him, that serves as the party's Global Airship from this point.
  • Pit from Kid Icarus: Uprising mentions he would like to be able to fly by himself so he doesn't have to rely on his patron goddess Palutena to do so. The other characters also constantly mock him for being the only angel who can't fly, and the one time Palutena doesn't make some kind of disapproving remark over his desire to be able to fly on his own is when he rescues Dark Pit, at the cost of his wings burning away because he forced Viridi to keep giving him the power of flight after its time limit expired.
  • Marin from The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening wishes she was a seagull so she could fly off the island and sing to various people. She gets her wish if you finish the game without dying.
  • Pokémon invokes this trope with Bagon, a little dragon introduced in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire whose aspirations to fly fail causing it to fall and hit its head so hard and so often that it becomes tempered. However, its later evolutions see its dream realized, eventually evolving into a giant winged, flying Salamence.

    Web Animation 

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of Adventures of the Gummi Bears, after hearing stories of being who flew called the Aerials, Cubbi desired to fly, and used a gummiberry juice-powered jet pack to give himself the boost to get into the air. He eventually gave up on flying after he learned that the Aerials were more jerkish than the stories let on, including abducting the other Gummis.
  • This is Yankee Doodle Pigeon's raison d'être on Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines. A comic book story even expresses that Yankee Doodle would love his job if it weren't for the two villains.
  • In the Dinosaur Train episode "Now With Feathers!", Valerie Velociraptor is visibly upset when Tiny assumes she can fly because she has feathers, and says she wishes she could.
  • The Classic Disney WWII short "Sky Trooper" has Donald wanting to fly in the Air Force.
  • Garfield:
    • The Garfield and Friends episode "Airborne Odie" saw Odie wishing to fly, which comes true after finding a magic lamp at the beach that contained a genie (voiced by Buddy Hackett). After using up two of his wishes to fly more properly, Odie uses his final wish to save Garfield from a shark.
    • An episode of The Garfield Show also depicts Odie longing to fly, although it kept twisting around whether or not it was All Just a Dream.
  • In one episode of House of Mouse featuring all the characters that can fly, flightless Donald longs to be able to do the same. Thanks to Tinker Bell, he's able to live it out.
  • The Lost Episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, "The Sponge Who Could Fly", depicts SpongeBob longing to fly with jellyfish. After a few failed attempts at building a flying machine, SpongeBob gains the ability to fly by accidentally inflating his pants. Unfortunately, everyone takes advantage of his flight which leads to his pants being destroyed. However, SpongeBob gets his wish when the jellyfish give him a ride.
  • Kit Cloudkicker from Disney Television's Talespin series admires his mentor, Baloo, and hopes to become a remarkable pilot someday. The few times that Kit has taken the controls have overwhelmed him, though. However, as far as riding an airfoil goes, Kit takes to "cloudsurfing" like a bird to the sky.
  • In The Wuzzles episode "Eleroo's Wishday", Eleroo wishes that he could fly, but when Croc and his cronies threaten the other Wuzzles, Eleroo uses his final wish to sacrifice his newfound abilities of flight and to save his friends.
  • One episode of Yogi Bear featured Yogi helping a baby eagle who couldn't fly. After many attempts, the young eagle finally succeeds when he saves Yogi who fell off a cliff.