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Sky Surfing

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This would make a good cover for a Metal album!

"He's air surfing! I can't believe I never thought of that!"
Aang, Avatar: The Last Airbender, "The Avatar and the Firelord"

A form of transportation and example of Not Quite Flight in which the flyer stands on top of an object with relative propulsion and control surfaces. While the rider is usually the one in control, all the work is done by whatever he's standing on.

Despite the trope name, the flying vehicle in question doesn't necessarily have to be surfboard-shaped.

Owes its existence to The Sky Is an Ocean and, of course, the Rule of Cool.

The difference between a Hover Board and Sky Surfing is that a Hover Board (whatever its shape) is limited in how high above the ground it can go.

Though sky surfing is real, in real life, it's just fancy tricks in the air while falling rather than transportation of any kind.

Super-Trope to Magic Carpet, Flying Broomstick, Flying on a Cloud and Ride the Rainbow. If the rider isn't the one in control of the object he's on top of such as a plane or similar, it's Outside Ride. See also Rocket Ride.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle: Matsuri once caught up to the faster Soga by using wind ninjutsu to fly over any obstacles in-between them on an uprooted sign (which is amusingly labeled "Danger: Slow Down"). Unfortunately, the wind and higher altitude gave Soga a very good view up Matsuri's skirt.
  • Digimon Tamers has Gallantmon with Grani.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Tao Pai Pai's preferred method of travel was to hurl a log towards his destination, leap on top of it, and ride it into the horizon.
    • And predating that is Goku's Kinto'un, a golden cloud which only the pure of heart can ride. Given to him by Mutenroshi, replaced by Karin after it got blown up for good, then inherited by his sons after his second death, he used it extensively until he learned to fly faster than it could. Mutenroshi also used baby Gamera this way, but all that spinning made him puke.
  • Eureka Seven has lifting, a form of Sky Surfing using special boards to ride strange atmospheric particles called trapars, which are really the thought energy of the intelligent coral covering the planet. Anyways, Lifting is also used as a flight mechanism for their Humongous Mecha.
    • If it's not awesome enough, their surfboards leave energy trails that can slice through armor, luminescent green/yellow and look like splashing waves.
  • In FLCL, Haruko uses her guitar this way, as a shoutout to one of Gainax' earlier work, the Daicon IV opening animation.
  • The Gundam metaseries have sub-flight systems, planes specifically designed to allow mobile suits to ride on them. The Justice Gundam from Gundam SEED even has its own dedicated flight lifter mounted on its back.
  • How Not to Summon a Demon Lord: Diablo casts a levitation spell on a log and stands on it to ride in the sky. Unfortunately, the spell wears off after a few minutes, making him fall out of the sky painfully.
  • Taken to its most Xtreeeeeeme in Junks an early Yukito Kishiro manga about Space Pirates (collected in one of the Battle Angel Alita: Last Order omnibus editions). The protagonist and a rival pirate captain agree to settle a dispute with a "Plasma Boarding" match, where they enter a planet's atmosphere in nothing but space suits while riding on surfboards made from the heat-dissipating ceramics they make the bottoms of space shuttles out of.
  • Like in the games it's based off, Kirby: Right Back at Ya! has the Warp Star as Kirby's preferred method of travel. Unlike the games, Kirby also regularly uses it while fighting opponents.
  • In Final Battle of Macross Frontier: Wings Of Goodbye the Macross Quarter itself does this. An aircraft carrier sized transforming mecha.
    • Note that the Quarter doesn't have a built-in 'board' to use. It just uses a random chunk of space debris as a reentry shield/surfboard.
  • Lutecia of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha often does this on a Type 2 Gadget Drone to get around. There's also Wendi and her Riding Board.
  • Maken-ki! has the Big Bad Yamato Ouken ride on a rock he threw in one of the recent chapters.
  • In the second episode of Mobile Fighter G Gundam, Neo-America Gundam master Chibodee Crocket uses his Gundam's shield like this to catch up to Domon Kasshu so that they can start their fight.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • Negi Springfield has done this a few times flying on his staff.
    • Jack Rakan managed to pull off surfing on a thrown BFS.
    • Most mages in the Akamatsuverse who use brooms or staves to fly stand on them when engaged in aerial combat.
  • In Shaman King, the Ainu shaman and snowboarder Horohoro uses his magic to create an ever-present avalanche of snow and ice under his snowboard to fly. Might be closer to a Hover Board in that there presumably is a limit to how high he can make the snow go.
    • This is very similar to how Iceman of the X-Men often travels, though he just stands on the ice he creates. Neither of them seems to worry about what happens with all that frozen water after they've been passing through...
  • The end of Space☆Dandy episode 6 ends with Dandy and Meow escaping from an exploding planet on Dandy's surfboard.
  • Tekkaman Blade often rode on the back of his robot Pegus. In Tekkaman Blade II, Vesna, Sommer, and Hiver had dedicated ships (with their own pilots) to ride on, and Aki, once but an angsty love interest, has her own Pegas II (for the same reason—she's an artificial Tekkaman and needs a Pegas to transform).
  • In Tweeny Witches, Arusu is unable to ride a Flying Broomstick the regular way. However, she finds she can do it by standing on the broom like a skateboard.

    Asian Animation 
  • BoBoiBoy: BoBoiBoy Cyclone has a hoverboard which he uses to stay aloft, but since it runs on wind power, the sky's the limit to how high he can fly.

    Comic Books 
  • As the combination of both the Silver Surfer and the Black Racer, the Amalgam Universe's Silver Racer also skis.
  • Fantastic Four: The Invisible Woman, can carry herself through the air using either discs or platforms she creates.
  • The Flash: The Trickster's "air-walker shoes".
  • Eppy Thatcher, the fourth Grendel, used a pair of discs under his feet that allow him to fly until he developed a more advanced (and grisly) method: micro-levitation devices he surgically implanted in the soles of his feet. Not sure if those also count as this trope or not...
  • Judge Dredd has had several storylines based around sky-surfing, mostly centered around the (highly illegal) Supersurf tournaments.
  • During the Keith Giffen era of the Justice League, the JL fought the Scarlet Skier; the herald of the cosmic decorator Mr Nebula (a parody of the Silver Surfer and Galactus).
  • New Gods:
    • Mister Miracle uses a pair of discs under his feet that allow him to fly.
    • The Black Racer of the New Gods, flew through the cosmos on skis.
  • The Silver Surfer just might be the Trope Maker.
  • Spider-Man villains Green Goblin and Hobgoblin with their Goblin Glider.
    • Plus female Goblin Fury in Spider-Girl... and Spider-Girl herself, for a while.
    • Not to mention Jack O' Lantern, aka Jack Macendale, on a disk-shaped glider.

    Comic Strips 
  • A cartoon by Charles Addams, Gahan Wilson, or somebody along the same line showed some witches arriving at a coven meeting riding their broomsticks this way. They're described by another witch as "the beach crowd" or "the Malibu crowd."

    Films — Animation 
  • Jim Hawkins of Treasure Planet has solar surfing, fitting with all the other flying boats in the movie. It gets him into trouble with the law in the very beginning, but it makes an excellent Chekhov's Skill.
  • Gretchen of Zombillenium is a modernized witch that rides a broomstick modified with a skateboard deck so she can ride it standing up.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Happened in one of the more ridiculous scenes of Batman & Robin where Batman and Robin ride the doors of a rocket ship after Mr. Freeze.
    Robin: Cowabunga!
  • The film Dark Star ends with Lt. Doolittle attempting an atmospheric entry riding a surfboard shaped piece of wreckage from his destroyed spaceship. The film ends before we find out how well that worked for him.
  • Though most of them were skydiving, Tommy Oliver did this in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
  • Harry Osborn flies around on a special glider in Spider-Man 3. Unlike the ones below, this one resembled a surf board.

    Live-Action TV 



    Tabletop Games 
  • Games Workshop games:
    • In Warhammer, Warhammer: Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000, Tzeentch, the Chaos God of magic, often gifts his most powerful followers and daemons with a Disc of Tzeentch. These flat, circular daemons are created from a transmuted Screamer and allow their rider to soar through the skies of a battlefield to rain magic and psychic powers down on their foes.
    • In Warhammer 40,000, Dark Eldar Hellions ride on bladed Skyboards, compact anti-grav platforms that allow the sadistic Dark Eldar to race around the spires of Commorragh and through the skies Realspace with great speed and agility.

  • The Skyblade Personal Transport in Exalted.

    Theme Parks 

  • BIONICLE's Toa Lhikan had two fire-swords which could unite to form a shield, and that shield, in turn, doubled as an instrument well-suited for sky surfing.
    • When the Ignika created a body for itself, it also created a Skyboard to use.

    Video Games 
  • Champions Online has more than one such power. One summons chunks of earth (or cloud, if you do it while falling), another summons a chunk of ice, and yet another summons an actual technological glider disk. The newest ones include a magic carpet and a cloud with a rainbow trail.
  • Layle of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers does this during the final battle.
  • The "boards" in Fly FF. They're the main method of transport alongside Flying Broomsticks. Less common rideable items include clouds and magic carpets.
  • Exploiting physics glitches allows you to pull this off with ordinary wooden pallets and... small, plastic buckets in Half-Life 2, which is used big time in the speedrun.
  • Hazelnut Hex have you playing as a witch who flies around on a giant spoon. Meanwhile your main nemesis flies on a similar-sized fork.
  • In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, all three protagonists can turn their Keyblade into a vehicle, but Ven's is the only one that really fits this.
  • Kirby's Warp Star allows him to travel long distances quickly. He even sometimes rides it surfboard style.
  • Rush Jet allows Mega Man to skysurf on the back of his dog.
  • At the climax of Metal Wolf Chaos, Michael surfs an exploding space station to Earth while wearing a Humongous Mecha Powered Armour. For this game, it's pretty much par for the course.
  • Alolan Raichu from Pokémon Sun and Moon gain partial Psychic typing and can use their new psychic powers to surf through the air on their lightning bolt shaped tails.
  • While not technically flying, the Anchoring ability in S4 League allows you to shoot a grappling chain to any surface and then zip there on a board. Since this can be done in midair, arenas with enough tall buildings will let you zoom from one end to the other without touching the ground.
  • Sonic The Hedgehog:
    • In several games, Tails will fly a biplane and Sonic will stand on the wings.
    • In the Sonic Riders series, a mark of true Extreme Gear mastery is being able to achieve legitimate flight on a gear rather than the Not Quite Flight that most regular riders are capable of. The Babylon Rouges all have the technique licked to some extent, but Sonic ends up having trouble with it at first.
  • Touhou Project:
  • Temjin in the Virtual-ON series gained this as a special attack in the second game. It becomes his most powerful attack in Super Robot Wars Alpha 3 and Super Robot Wars K.
    • Speaking of Super Robot Wars, the Huckebein Boxer's Sword Diver attack enables the frame to transform into a rocket powered Waverider BFS which rams itself into the opponent as the finishing move.

  • Although called "hover boards", the boards used by SUEPR in City of Reality are actually utilizing this trope since they appear able to fly at any altitude.
  • Bro in Homestuck (as well as his Alpha Universe counterpart) has a rocket board. He's proficient enough with its usage to use it more like a skateboard than a surfboard, though.
  • In Kid Radd, the titular Radd had the powerup in his original game, and as he absorbed some code from the sequel, he got the infinite rocket board cheat.

    Web Original 
  • Riptide's cloud-board in the Whateley Universe. Built especially to use her powers by Bugs, it's a flight board that uses Riptide's aquakinetic powers to fly, and it generates a tiny cloud around itself while Riptide 'surfs' on it.

    Western Animation 
  • Arcane: The Firelights are a masked gang that ride around on rocket-powered boards. They're a problem for both Silco and the Enforcers.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: When witnessing his mentor doing just this with a glider in a Pensieve Flashback, Aang exclaims: "He's air-surfing! I can't believe I never thought of that." We never see him copying the technique afterward, probably because Gyatso fell off after about a minute.
  • In Batman Beyond, the "Royal Flush" villain group flies on giant playing cards. Spellbinder, another villain, has his own mechanical device to fly on as well, although it's more spherical than board-shaped.
  • In Beast Wars, Optimus Primal's Transmetal form is an ape on a hoverboard, so he did this more than a few times in the show.
  • Odd and Yumi use vehicles that glide on air in Code Lyoko.
  • Valerie of Danny Phantom.
  • In later seasons of Generator Rex, Rex rides the "Sky Slyder", basically a giant glowing surfboard.
  • Kim Possible: Finished as a villain tutor, Shego calls up a flying rocket-powered skyboard in her signature colors and dives onto it from a helicopter. That's how to leave your job in style...
  • Gus in The Owl House flies on his magic staff this way, as opposed to most witches who ride them seated. It's shown at one point that he actually has a lot of trouble steering when he tries to fly the 'standard' way, but while sky surfing he’s the quickest and most maneuverable on his Flyer Derby team.
  • In PJ Masks, the villain Luna Girl has her "Moon Board," a crescent-shaped board that seems to run on some form of anti-gravity energy.
  • The zipboards from ReBoot are a textbook example of this trope.
    • Taken to the logical end with Ray Tracer, who uses an actual surfboard ala Silver Surfer.
  • Then there's the long-forgotten Skysurfer Strike Force, about a team of superheroes who all ride flying boards.
  • Static from Static Shock surfs using a disc.
    • Early in the original comic (and the cartoon), Static would fly by magnetically levitating a convenient piece of metal. He preferred manhole covers and hubcaps, but he would set aside his embarrassment and ride a garbage can in a pinch.
  • Kit Cloudkicker in TaleSpin uses a collapsible crescent-shaped board to surf over clouds, usually while being pulled by the Sea Duck (so it's essentially sky wakeboarding). He's also skilled enough to surf unassisted, such as after bailing out of aircraft, but he rarely does it unless he's near a town, a dock, or another populated place he can land in.
  • In Transformers: Animated, Jetfire transforms and rides Jetstorm when making their initial attack on Prowl and Bulkhead.
  • In WordGirl, the villainess Ms. Question rides a giant question mark.

  • Truth in Television; this indeed is a practice in skydiving.
  • Crows have also been observed effectively doing this with pieces of bark in updrafts.
  • This can be used as a technique for flying in lucid dreams (where you know you're dreaming) if just flying by yourself doesn't work; making an object float and even move very fast while standing or sitting on it might work better. It could be that it works because traveling in a vehicle is a more familiar sensation. Of course, it might not work. These tricks are individual and never wholly reliable.


Video Example(s):


Jim's Solar Surfer

Jim Hawkins of Treasure Planet has a futuristic solar surfer, fitting with all the other flying boats in the movie. It gets him into trouble with the law in the very beginning, but it makes an excellent Chekhov's Skill.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / CoolBoard

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