So a character, most likely via a flying vehicle/creature or a newfound ability, is experiencing the wonders of flight for the first time. Sooner or later, their joyous moment may bring them somewhere over a body of water. When that happens, there's a good chance that they will decrease their altitude just enough to be able to reach out and touch it with their hand or fingers. Especially common during the Flight of Romance.
It does not necessarily have to be the character's first flight, or that the water has to be touched specifically with their hand — the trope mostly refers to the general act of touching or splashing the water while having fun flying.
It should be noted that this is a possible example of Television Is Trying to Kill Us. If you are ever in this situation of flying in an open vehicle — somehow — dragging your fingers through a thicker fluid is an easy way to fall off-course or lose a finger. Per the general theory of relativity, this interaction is the same as the water moving and you standing still, which can be replicated by sticking your hand under a rather large waterfall.
If a vehicle skims the surface of water because it's on the brink of a crash, that's Belly-Scraping Flight.
- The current Paramount Pictures logo features the Paramount stars skimming the lake and creating ripples.
- Aladdin: During "A Whole New World," Carpet swoops down to the surface of a river and brushes the surface with its tassels. Jasmine also briefly skims her hand over it as they first come in.
- Hotel Transylvania: After finally getting her long-desired permission from her father to go out for the first time, Mavis happily jumps out of a window and turns into a bat moments before hitting the water of the moat. She playfully skims the tip of her wing over it as she flies.
- In How to Train Your Dragon, Hiccup has his first test flight on Toothless over the sea. They fly close to the water and at some point, Toothless touches the water with his wing. Later, when Hiccup takes Astrid on a flight with Toothless, the dragon dives underwater mid-flight to mess with her.
- In Mr. Peabody & Sherman, when Sherman and Penny steal DaVinci's flying machine, they eventually fly over the Venice's canals, and Penny briefly puts her hand in the water.
- Peter Pan: The "You can Fly" segment where Peter gave the Darling children the ability to fly. Peter rode on the backs of two swans in a lake and Wendy flew a foot over the water with Tinker Bell deliberately breaking up her image in it — before she nearly gets eaten by a fish.
- The Rescuers Down Under: On their first flight together, Marahute holds Cody above a river and lets him skate on the surface.
- Accomplished by Pixar's peculiar robot WALLE while clinging to the outer hull of the shuttle rocket. As the rocket passes close to the ice rings of Saturn, the awestruck robot brushes the ice crystals with his mechanical hand.
- Odette in The Swan Princess as she flies back to the pond in Swan form after Derek makes a 'vow of everlasting love' to the wrong woman and nearly kills her
- In Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), Rodan flies across the sea around Isla de Mara while decimating the Raptor squadron, and his wings briefly touch the waters as he glides.
- In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, when Harry flies around Hogwarts on the back of Buckbeak, the hippogriff flies close to the Hogwarts' lake and touches the water with one of its talons.
- Lois does this as the title character takes her flying in Superman Returns.
- Artemis Fowl: As fairies rarely get the chance to fly above the ground, Holly indulges in knocking the snow off the very top of a mountain in the Alps mid-flight. Commander Root doesn't take disciplinary action despite this being against regulations, because "everyone does it"... including himself in his early career.
- This seems to be popular among Zenna Henderson 's The People. It's mentioned several times, along with walking on water.
- Ice King and Princess Monster Wife do this in the "A Whole New World" parody sequence in the Adventure Time episode "Princess Monster Wife".
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: In "The Waterbending Scroll", Momo the flying lemur gets chased by an iguana parrot owned by the villain of the week. At one point during the chase, they fly low over a river, and each trails the tip of one wing in the water while doing a banked turn.
- The common swift is a bird that can go 10 months without ever landing, and drinks by flying close to the surface of a lake and opening its beak.