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If It Swims, It Flies

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"A flying boat. What next, an underwater plane?"
Comic Book Guy, The Simpsons Game

So, you've got a nice team of heroes, each with a specialty and associated Giant Robot or vehicle. A fiery leader, a strong man, a flying ace, The Heart for good measure, and a naval master.

You hit an instant snag, though. Once you are out of range of the ocean, your naval man's mech loses its special value to the team. How does one make up for this Aquaman-level flaw?

Invoke the power of flight. Suddenly, that seafaring machine takes to the air.

It's not just mecha, by the way. Anything that looks like an aquatic vehicle can, with the right amount of thought or lack thereof, be converted to something that flies through the air or into space. After all, Space Is an Ocean, isn't it?

Compare with Flying Seafood Special, where the inexplicably flying aquatic entities are living organisms.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Transformers: Robots in Disguise: As his name suggests, the shark Predacon Sky-Byte can fly and swim in his beast mode.
  • Mazinger:
    • Mazinger Z: Mazinger-Z got upgraded to be able to swim (in episode 18) and fly (in episode 34). However its mobility and speed gets severely hindered underwater and its weapons do not work properly, so it may count as a subversion.
    • Great Mazinger: Great Mazinger was also equipped to fly and swim, and faced the same problems its antecessor.
    • UFO Robo Grendizer: One of its Mid-Season Upgrade -Marine Spacer- was designed to combining with Grendizer and allow it swim and dive. However it also could fly.
  • Getter Robo: Getter is -literally- built around this concept. Depending on how the three jets combine, the form a different robot, capable to fly on Earth and space, fly or burrow underground, or swim and dive.
  • Robot Romance Trilogy:
    • Combattler V: Battle Marine, one of the machines that form the body of the Humongous Mecha -to be specific, the legs- is able to swim and fly -and it also carries around the Battle Tank, that cannot fly on its own).
    • Voltes V: Volt Frigate, the machine that forms the legs of Voltes V, also is able to fly and swim.
  • The vehicles of the Sea Team from Dairugger XV, a.k.a. Vehicle Voltron, can all fly. Then again, so can the Land Team's.
  • The God Phoenix in Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. Its launch base is underwater.
  • Inverted in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
    • The Dai-Gurren, which looks like a ship with legs and a torso, was originally a surface battleship. Later, Leeron converted it to be seaworthy (by tacking on a giant paddle and a pair of flippers...), though they couldn't go very deep. Even later, it nabbed one of the flight spheres of the Dai-Gunten, Cytomander's Airborne Aircraft Carrier, gaining the ability of unassisted flight... even though Parallel Works 8 shows us hundreds of these battling the Anti-Spirals in high Earth orbit.
    • Similar inversion occurred in the final season: while Ganmen were shown earlier as not being water-proof, they CAN fly and fight in space. The Gurren-Lagann doesn't have this problem.
      • It can be explained away by saying that the Ganmen being designed for space battles means that they're designed to keep overpressure inside, not to keep it out. As for the Gurren-Lagann's self-sealing... it's the only pre-Time Skip Ganmen shown to use reality-warping Spiral Energy (aside from the Lazengann, of course).
    • A third inversion: the Moon-sized Chouginga Dai-Gurren can apparently operate as a submarine, even though there's no ocean big enough for it... though when they got caught in the ocean-like Death Spiral Field, the ship was almost crushed by the pressure.
  • Super Atragon: The undersea battleship Ra is given exactly two scenes where it is shown flying; neither instance of her flight has any plot relevance.
  • Taken to ridiculous levels in Pokémon: The Movie 2000, where Melody's sailboat—which is apparently just a regular sailboat—is made to fly above the waves when they need to go faster. Complete with the following dialogue:
    Ash: This thing flies?!?
    Melody: If you know how.
  • About 90% of aquatic Zoids can fly, swim in sand, or both.
  • Inverted with the Ptolemy II in Mobile Suit Gundam 00, which starts as a spaceship, but is also capable of atmospheric and underwater operation.
  • Inverted in Gaiking: Legend of Daiku Maryu; the Stinger and Serpent flying vehicles can also operate underwater. Played straight with the titular Gaiking, who can operate in both the air and underwater, although not as well as when combined with either the Stinger or the Crab Banker respectively.
  • Two inversions occur in Code Geass, namely the Ikaruga flagship and the custom-built Knightmare Frame Shinkiro. Both are initially shown to be flying vessels, thanks to Rakhshata's Air Glide system, but both are later revealed to have submersible properties.
  • Happens from time to time in works made by Leiji Matsumoto or with him otherwise involved:
    • Space Battleship Yamato has it both ways: it is an ex-sea battleship that was reconfigured into a space battleship, but it can still go on water, and can indeed go underwater and survive if absolutely necessary.
      • Later Earth ships inverts it, as they're built as spaceships but can go on and underwater as needed.
    • In a similar way, the titular ship of The Ultimate Time Sweeper Mahoroba started out as a Design A-150 battleship that survived the war and was later refitted with incredibly advanced technology whose limits aren't quite clear, and her abilities include going underwater, spaceflight, and even time travel.
    • In the final episode of Submarine Super 99, the crew of the titular ship escapes using experimental engines that propel them out of the ocean and into the sky, turning the submarine into an airship. The captain even says "I think we've just transferred to the Air Force". Furthermore, they're planning to eventually take it to sail into outer space one day.
    • Captain Harlock's ship, the Arcadia, inverts it: it was built as a space battleship, but can go underwater - and actually does it quite often.

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animated 
  • The Ketaks (Atlantean flying vehicles shaped like various sea creatures) from Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire. They are apparently activated by having a small Atlantean Crystal inserted into a slot, and turned back quarter-way, much like how an actual car is started up.
    • There's also the Leviathan, which was also capable of flight as seen in the prologue.
  • In Despicable Me 2, Lucy's car can transform into both a submarine and a jet plane.
  • Syndrome's manta ray jet/submarine from The Incredibles.
  • Yellow Submarine - the Yellow Submarine swims and flies equally well.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a car that can fly and float as well as drive.
  • In Harry Harrison's novel The Daleth Effect, the main characters use the titular effect to modify a mini-sub to fly to the Moon in 4 hours.
  • The climax of The Course of Empire features modern submarines converted to space warships.
  • As seen in the Republic Commando Series, the Mon Calamari have developed a hyperspace-capable submarine.
  • At least one Animorphs book had the team on a spacecraft that went up into space, then came plummeting downward and hurtled through the ocean to get to the underwater enterance of the Yeerk Pool. Ax even mentions that most spacecraft have limited underwater capability.
  • Septimus Heap: The Dragon Boat is both a boat and a flying dragon.
  • Jules Verne's story, Master of the World, has the Terror, a combination car, ship, submarine, and airplane.
  • Tom Swift Jr's Diving Seacopter.
  • This is a major plot point in the Daniel Pinkwater book Yobgorgle: Mystery Monster of Lake Ontario. This book's version of the Flying Dutchman cannot bring any ship of his, including the pig-shaped submarine he currently lives on, within a certain distance of the shore.note  The protagonist figures out that if they get the sub to hydroplane fast enough to fly it won't be a ship, it'll be an airplane, which doesn't fall under the rules of the curse.
  • Played with in Isaac Asimov's short story "For the Birds". A person is asked to design wings for people to use in microgravity conditions on a space station. He realizes that fins and flippers are much more appropriate.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Delta Flyer of Star Trek: Voyager is capable of surviving deep space pressure as well able to submerge in the depths of an alien ocean world. Justified in this case since that's exactly why they built it, to have a more versatile shuttle craft capable of handling a wider variety of missions than the standard issue ones.
  • The small craft from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was a flying submarine. The "main" submarine S.S.R.N Seaview, however, didn't fly.
  • Kamen Rider Decade: Kamen Rider Abyss' Contract Monsters, Abysshammer and Abysslasher, are normally anthropomorphic shark monsters. However, his Final Vent card fuses them into Abyssodon, a gigantic hammerhead/sawshark combo that - you guessed it - swims AND flies.
  • Super Sentai/Power Rangers has a few examples
    • Choujuu Sentai Liveman: Averted: Aqua Dolphin, when not in the water, rolls on the ground.
    • Power Rangers Turbo: Divatox's submarine is shown to also have space flight capabilities.
    • Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger/Power Rangers Wild Force: Gao Shark/Shark Zord fits it to a tee. While on Animeria, it's always shown in the water. The moment it is summoned to earth, it's flying right alongside Gao Eagle. This gets egregious when the Rangers actually mimic their animals' movements in chase scenes (averted in Wild Force by giving them Cool Bikes) and GaoBlue is FLYING beside Yellow (the Eagle).
      • There's also the SixthRanger's Hammerhead Shark Zord, though it isn't featured as prominently as the Shark Zord due to not being the main zord for its corresponding ranger. In its first appearance, when the Sixth Ranger is still evil, it actually engages the Shark and Eagle Zords in a midair battle.
    • Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger/Power Rangers Ninja Storm: Zigzagged by Hurricane Dolphin/Dolphin Zord - Stock Footage shows it "swimming" along the ground, but it flies in the occasional fight where the mecha don't immediately combine.
    • Juken Sentai Gekiranger/Power Rangers Jungle Fury: Possibly played straight with Geki Penguin/Penguin Spirit, which flies about on a hover board.
    • Engine Sentai Go-onger/Power Rangers RPM: Played with, as the mecha are animal/vehicle hybrids and flight ability is based on the vehicle half: Birca/Tail Spinner averts it being an orca-cycle and Jumbowhale/Whale Zord justifies it, being a whale-plane. In fact, the Whale Zord is an inversion, as the plane was built and then given its aquatic characteristics. Meta Guy Ziggy even lampshades it, asking "Why'd you make it a whale? Whales don't fly!"
    • Samurai Sentai Shinkenger/Power Rangers Samurai: Thrice over. Kame, Kajiki, and Ika Origami/Turtle, Swordfish, and "Octo" (squid) Zords are all shown flying in combat. Ika is the only one to truly follow the trope though, as it spends it's off time in a fish tank.
    • Tensou Sentai Goseiger/Power Rangers Megaforce Season 1: Gosei Shark/Shark Zord averts it by moving on the ground when not in the water. The Sea(ick) Brothers play it straight a bit, though, but that's hardly unique to them; all the "Brothers" sets of mecha can fly around.
    • Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger/Megaforce Season 2: The Rangers have GokaiGalleon/Skyship Zord, as befits a Pirate-themed team. But they're also Space Pirates, so the ship is obviously spaceworthy. In addition, there's GokaiMarine/Sub Zord, which at least has shown it can move about in space (as can the other land mecha).
    • Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger/Power Rangers Dino Charge has Plezuon/Plesiozord, though this is also justified because it's part spaceship. Kyoryuger offers further justification of why a mecha based on a water creature would be equipped for space by referring to Space Is an Ocean.
  • The Puddle Jumpers from Stargate Atlantis are capable of underwater operation, atmospheric and space flight.
  • In UFO (1970), the front section of SHADO's Skydiver submarines can also operate as fighter aircraft.
  • Akumaizer 3 does it twofold with the team's Cool Airship, the Zaiderbeck. It starts out looking like a typical Flying Dutchman ship (which flies), but can be converted into a form that resembles a giant metal angler fish (which still flies).


    Tabletop Games 
  • Inverted in CthulhuTech, where every mech that can fly can at least move underwater. Not so for aquatic mechs, but, oddly enough, any mech that can swim can at least jump really high.
  • The French Magenta class Battleship from Dystopian Wars . It's a Battleship that can leviate via a "Gravity Nullification Drive" to become an Aircraft to strike fear into your opponent's air force.
  • Played straight in the Astral Sea of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, where any creature or vehicle with a swim speed is able to fly using that speed as well.

    Theme Parks 
  • The Wild Arctic simulator ride at SeaWorld takes place in a helicopter that is also able to go underwater.

  • This happened with the G.I. Joe S.H.A.R.C. toy. Originally concieved only as a mini-sub, kids play-testing it decided that the engines mounted on the sides looked like wings, and started making it fly. Hasbro decided to just roll with it.

    Video Games 
  • While the original Andro Dunos is set entirely in outer space, in the sequel the alien invasion has reached earth, with a stage set in a sunken city. Where it turns out, the players' spaceships can function perfectly well underwater when battling aquatic foes.
  • X-COM: Terror from the Deep features USOs, Unidentified Submersed Objects (basically, alien submarines), that can fly over land. This is mostly because the game is the original X-COM with new sprites. Oh, and your own flying subs cannot use their weapons unless they're submerged.
    • It is at least justified in-game, as the submersibles used by X-COM are equipped with what are essentially underwater jet engines. When they go above water, they're just regular old jet engines.
    • Also, the weapons used by X-COM craft are specifically designed for underwater use, such as torpedoes and sonic oscillators (sound travels much slower in air than in water). Gauss cannons should still work, though (better, in fact, since there's no water resistance for the slugs).
  • Final Fantasy: Many of the airships in the older games look as if they were ships, of the seafaring variety, with the sails replaced by propellors. You explicitly change your normal ship into an airship when you no longer need a boat in Final Fantasy III.
    • In Final Fantasy V, the airship can go from a normal ship to a flying airship mode and back.
      • And once it's in the water, it can change further into a submarine. Pressing the "lift-off" button while sailing asks you whether to go "up" (into the sky) or "down" (into the ocean.)
    • The Tiny Bronco in Final Fantasy VII is an inversion: a seaplane that breaks down when the party tries to fly it out of Rocket Town, forcing them to use it as a boat instead.
    • The steam-powered airship Hilde Garde III in Final Fantasy IX is similarly built from the hull of the Blue Narciss, a sailing vessel.
  • Golden Sun 2: You get a ship that is upgraded to an airship... by adding giant flapping wings. Said wings are explicitly powered by the party's magic - specifically, an ability called Hover. Using it for awhile will drop your magic reserves to nothing, however, but sailing on the water slowly regenerates them.
  • Horizon Forbidden West: One of the new machines in the Burning Shores expansion is the Water Wing, a flying machine that resembles a gigantic pelican that can swim as well as it can fly.
  • Xenogears: The Yggdrasil stars as a Sand Sub, that can only work on sand. Then it gets fixed after Id sinks it. Later, it gets the ability to fly like any other airship.
  • The Empire of the Rising Sun in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 uses several of these as their main gimmick:
    • The Sea-wing/Sky-wing, a fast anti-air submarine that can transform into anti-infantry airplanes. And by "transform", we really just mean "take off"; the two forms are identical except for flipping over.
    • The Tengu is an anti-infantry robot that can fly to attack aircraft, but because it's ground form hovers it can go over water as well.
    • The expansion's Giga Fortress is a floating self-repairing monstrosity that can hit anything except subs, though it lacks the range of the Shogun battleship. But when it goes into its giant floating demon head Sky Fortress mode, it can hit surface targets with an attack that can both outrange and one-shot turrets and most units.
  • Vehicles in Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts tend to turn out this way. Plane-ish vehicles tend to be able to navigate underwater easily (if they have the underwater capable cockpits) and Submarine vehicles tend to fly well (if given wings). Make a boat. Then add wings to it. Bam, flying boat!
  • In the point-and-click adventure game AmerZone, you operate a vehicle that not only plays out this trope, but does so in multiple ways: it can fly as either a prop plane or helicopter, navigate the water as a motorboat, sailboat, or fan-propelled swamp boat, and drag itself along the river with a grappling hook.
  • In Midwinter II: Flames of Freedom, you have Flying Submarines, which look like manta-rays.
  • In the Leviathan DLC for Mass Effect 3 this trope is inversed; your pilot mentions that the dropship that you are flying in can, in fact, function underwater. Unfortunately, the dropship is knocked out before it gets a chance to demonstrate, and you are forced to find another way underwater.
  • Inverted in MechWarrior Living Legends, where the Aerospace Fighters are perfectly capable of flying around in deep water with no drop in their speed, and likewise, the VTOLs can fly underwater. However, only one vanilla map (Clearcut) has deep enough water for this to be practical.
  • In the Super Robot Wars series, there are special devices that allow mechs to function in terrain where they're not able to normally operate. Thus, a water-focused unit like the Getter-3 can fly in the sky while the space-based GP-03 Dendrobium can become an underwater Mobile Armor. This is taken to the extreme in Third Super Robot Wars Z where, in-story, the submarine Tuatha de Danaan is converted into a spaceship.
  • Inverted in Warframe; the Archwing Jet Pack, designed for combat in space, works just as well in the crushing depths of the Uranus ocean, albeit moving at nothing more than a brisk jogging pace due to water drag.
  • Sirens in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt behave this way, as do their stronger kin, Lamias and Ekhidnas. On the other hand, they're rendered nearly helpless if knocked onto solid ground with Aard or a well placed crossbow bolt.
  • Many water type Pokémon are treated like this, see their mention in Flying Seafood Special.
  • With some careful tinkering in the ship editor in Pixel Piracy, you can make your ship hover above the water, building your very own floating ghost ship.
  • Super Mario Bros.: Normally, Bloopers are only encountered in underwater levels, but in some games they can appear on dry land, where they act no differently from their aquatic counterparts, being able to free float around in both environments. This trait was first introduced in Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels as an Ascended Glitchnote , later becoming a staple of the species in various other installments.


    Western Animation 
  • The Comic Strip: The Tiger Sharks have the SARK, which is both a submarine and a spaceship.
  • Inverted in Futurama. The Planet Express Ship was designed for space, which means it's rated for between zero and one atmospheres of pressure. It manages to survive an unplanned trip to the bottom of the ocean.
  • In Centurions, Max Ray, the sea operations specialist, has used his Cruiser Assault Weapon System to slow his descent in a fall from high altitude, achieving Not Quite Flight. Another episode had him using his Tidal Blast to survive the vacuum of outer space, and yet another had him using the same Tidal Blast to achieve a space version of Not Quite Flight. He has also used Ace's Skyknight AWS (for real Flight this time) in at least one episode.
    • Inverted with Ace using his Orbital Interceptor for underwater operations at abyssal depths.
  • In Generator Rex, Rex´s Boogie Pack works perfectly fine underwater.
  • Inspector Gadget has Dr. Claw's transformable sub/car/plane.
  • In She-Ra: Princess of Power, the pirate Sea Hawk has the Solar Sailor, a ship that can sail on water and also take flight, powered by its solar sails.
  • Star Wars Resistance: In the season 1 finale, it turns out that the Colossus platform, an apparently stationary oceanic depot which was just recently sunk almost entirely underwater, is actually a mobile, hyperdrive-equipped Space Station. Cue Steal the Surroundings to escape the First Order.
  • The T-Sub of Teen Titans quickly became the T-Ship as more episodes took them into space. Cyborg Lampshades this the first time. "The T-Sub was made for deep sea, not deep space!" He makes it work though.
  • Transformers:
    • Broadside, a triple-changer who can transform into an aircraft carrier and a fighter jet. Do not question the scale problems involved.
    • Beast Wars:
      • Depth Charge has a manta ray beast-mode, and a flight alt-mode. His flight alt-mode, however, is based of the ship he used to come to earth in the first place. True of most Transformers with swimming alt-modes. Most sharkformers can fly, and the Energon toy-only Transformer Sharkticon turns into a submarine/spaceship.
      • Several of the Fuzors, which are biological mashups of two animals, are part aquatic and part flying animal, in order to avert this. This results in the piranha/bee and hammerhead shark/falcon, which look about as cool as they sounds.
  • One Shen Gon Wu from Xiaolin Showdown is a large manta ray-shaped vehicle that can either become a jet or a submarine.

    Real Life 
  • Seaplanes are a downplayed version of this trope— they can land on water, but usually aren't intended function as boats first and foremost.
    • A straighter example would be the various attempts at flying submarines. The US Navy and the Soviet Union both studied the idea at various points, as did a private inventor named Donald Reid. Reid was the only person to ever actually build one, albeit only in prototype form.
  • Also in the spirit of this trope (though not invoked outright) Submarine Aircraft Carriers.
  • Hydrofoils are perhaps the most widely produced version of this trope. Hydrofoil boats lift themselves out of the water with what are basically wings, decreasing drag and increasing speed and fuel efficiency. However, the hydrofoils themselves still touch the water, making this not a complete example.
  • The Soviet Ekranoplanes do play this straight (unlike hydrofoils). They use ground effect to lift themselves completely off the water, truly hovering above water at very high speeds. Ekranoplanes aimed to combine the high speeds of jet aircraft with the massive size and capacity of seaborne ships, to make for massive yet extremely fast moving warships, but were abandoned when it was found that, in addition to requiring completely calm waters (and thus being unable to operate in oceans, as the big waves present there would collide with these craft) they also have a hard time at simply turning to change direction while hovering at high speeds, as the ekranoplanes cannot use ailerons to roll and aid their turning, like airplanes do.
  • Flying fish do not truly fly, but are able to glide in the air for quite long distances after leaping out of the water.
  • Auks, puffins, and certain other seabirds, which can fly both in the air and in the sea. Their wings are efficient in both flying and diving. (If it flies, it swims.)
  • Another inversion are the missiles of some submarines that can be launched while the sub is still submerged. The missile moves a short distance to the surface before bursting out and flying. As rockets can (obviously) work in a vacuum, they also work fine underwater.