Fluttershy: (inhales) Yay.
Rainbow Dash: ...Ugh! (facehoof) You're gonna cheer for me like that? Louder.
Rainbow Dash: Louder!
Rainbow Dash: (Screen Shake) LOUUUDERRRR!!!
Fluttershy: (rears and deeply inhales) Yaaayyy.
Rainbow Dash: Ugh... (facehoof, falls over)
Fluttershy: Too loud?
(Rainbow Dash's eyes pop open with a "Seriously?" look on her face)
Rainbow Dash is busy prepping herself for the Best Young Flyers' Competition in the pegasus city of Cloudsdale, with Fluttershy as her hopeful cheering section (easier said than done, considering she usually can't speak louder than a whisper). However, despite her being able to ace all the other parts of her routine, Rainbow can't quite manage her difficult finishing move: the Sonic Rainboom, a near-impossible move where a pegasus flies fast enough to create a sonic boom and a rainbow at the same time. Despite Rainbow Dash acting cocky about how she can ace the competition (and win the grand prize: a day hanging out with the Wonderbolts!), Rarity detects that the pegasus is a lot more nervous than she lets on, and talks Twilight Sparkle into finding a spell to allow the wingless members of their circle of friends to go up to Cloudsdale and provide more moral support than Fluttershy can give. Twilight finds a rather difficult spell that will allow her to give a pony wings, and Rarity offers to be the test subject.
The day of the competition arrives, and after an encounter with a few old bullies from flight school (and Fluttershy botching the die roll on "Make Motivational Speech"), Rainbow Dash finds herself on the verge of a nervous breakdown over whether or not she'll win.
Suddenly, who should show up but Rarity, sporting a beautiful pair of colorful, translucent butterfly wings. The other ponies show up as well, via Twinkling Balloon, as Twilight was able to find an easier spell to let them walk on clouds. Encouraged by her friends' presence, Rainbow Dash decides to show them around Cloudsdale. As they tour the town, however, Rarity keeps vainly showing off her new wings (ignoring Twilight's warnings that they're extremely fragile), making Rainbow Dash feel even more self-conscious. And as if that weren't enough, Rarity's new admirers suggest she enter the Best Young Flyers' Competition as well!
And so the competition begins, presided over by not only the Wonderbolts, but also Princess Celestia herself. Rarity and Rainbow Dash get slowly pushed near the end of the show; Rarity is too busy in her dressing room (putting on a rather garish getup), and Rainbow Dash keeps changing the order of the contestants as she still doesn't feel ready. Finally, both ponies have to go on together, despite Rainbow Dash having been reduced to a nervous, shaking wreck. Rainbow Dash tries to go through her routine while Rarity struts her stuff in the air, but Rainbow ends up messing up the first two parts of it, leaving only one chance of saving herself from losing: the Sonic Rainboom.
Meanwhile, Rarity, her ego having inflated to ridiculous levels, decides to fly up as close to the sun as possible, letting the light shine through her wings and covering all of Cloudsdale in colorful light. Almost immediately though, her wings get incinerated in the heat, leaving Rarity to plummet to the ground. Three of the Wonderbolts dive down to save her, but get knocked out by Rarity's wild flailing through the air. Rainbow Dash spots her friend and her heroes in trouble, and flies to the rescue. As she does so, she goes fast enough to not only catch up to them, but to successfully pull off a Sonic Rainboom in the process, surprising the crowd and causing Fluttershy to cheer louder than ever. Rainbow Dash is so busy snatching the falling ponies out of the air that she doesn't even realize what's happened until she starts soaring back to the arena. The crowd starts to cheer as loud as Fluttershy! Having perfected her winning move and saved the Wonderbolts and Rarity, Rainbow Dash excitedly declares it the "best day ever!"
After the celebration, Rarity apologizes for stealing the spotlight and being too vain and prideful, and Rainbow Dash and the others forgive her, regretting only not being able to meet the Wonderbolts when they were conscious. At that moment, who should show up but the Wonderbolts themselves, who thank Rainbow Dash for saving them. To make things even better for the already excited young pegasus, Princess Celestia shows up to declare Rainbow Dash the winner of the competition. The Princess then turns to Twilight, asking if she's learned anything about friendship lately, and Twilight decides to let Rarity declare the Aesop of the episode: that one should "keep your hooves on the ground" and be supportive of your friends. Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash is approached by her old bullies, who apologize for the way they treated her, and want to hang out. Rainbow Dash turns them down, saying that "I've got plans!" as she flies off with two male members of the Wonderbolts
- Acquired Situational Narcissism: Rarity becomes entranced with the temporary wings Twilight gives her and soon forgets why she wanted them in the first place; going so far as to enter the competition herself just to show them off. At least she realizes in the end that she lost her head and regrets it. It starts early. When the other non-pegasi are amazed at Cloudsdale in general, Rarity is admiring her wings.
- An Aesop: Be there for your friends, all while keeping your hooves on the ground.
- Aside Comment: Before starting her routine in the competition, Rarity looks directly at the audience and says, "They'll be talking about it for years!"
- Ass Kicks You: Rarity to Twilight when she talks her into looking up flying for non-pegasus ponies.
- Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce: Ingested liquid rainbow acts like this, as demonstrated by Pinkie.
- The Cameo: Recurring Unicorn Lyra Heartstrings makes a notable cameo in this episode as the only non-pegasus outside of the Mane Six (and Celestia) to appear in Cloudsdale. Apparently she knows the cloud-walking spell too!
- Catch a Falling Star: Rainbow Dash pulls this off spectacularly, not only catching Rarity inches off the ground but also scooping up the three Wonderbolts that had been knocked unconscious by Rarity's flailing limbs as they attempted to save her.
- Chekhov's Gun: Twilight specifically cautions that the wings she gives to Rarity are fragile during their tour of Cloudsdale.
- Coconut Effect: Driven home in the aftermath of Pinkie Pie's taste of the rainbow, with the stock whinny and stock gallop.
- Construction Catcalls: Downplayed; some pegasus construction workers gawk at Rarity and her beautiful wings, to the point one of them loses track of the jackhammer he's working with.
- Contrived Coincidence: Just before Rarity starts prodding Twilight to find a spell to get wingless ponies into Cloudsdale, a book just happens to fall on Pinkie Pie's face, opened to a page describing a spell to make temporary wings. Also, it just happens to be a spell that plays up Rarity's vanity, which drives the rest of the plot.
- Crisis Makes Perfect: Rainbow Dash struggles to pull off the title maneuver while practicing for a flight competition. Come the day of the competition, Rainbow Dash is finally able to pull off the Sonic Rainboom successfully to save Rarity and the Wonderbolts from falling to their deaths.
- Early-Bird Cameo: This episode is the first appearance of Spitfire and (outside of fantasy sequences) Soarin', though we wouldn't learn their names or more of their personalities until "The Best Night Ever".
- Easily Forgiven: The three bullies that were probably mocking Rainbow Dash for years, even though they willingly apologize. That said, Dash was in a rare mood after her victory.
- Everyone Has Standards: Pinkie will happily devour cupcakes covered in hot sauce, but liquid rainbow is too spicy for her.
- Face Palm: Rainbow Dash does two concerning Fluttershy's cheering, the second accompanied by her flipping over.
- Face Plant: Dash crashes face-first into a wall when her slalom routine goes wrong during the show.
- Flat Joy: Fluttershy's cheering. Until the end, that is. From quiet to loud, she has mastered cheering loudly.
- Forgot About His Powers: Twilight can levitate an Ursa Minor for miles and effortlessly stop Rainbow Dash in midflight, but she does nothing to stop Rarity and the Wonderbolts from falling to their deaths (e.g. gradually slowing them down and then hoisting them back up). Celestia presumably has at least the ability to do that much and likely far more, but she too never intervenes. Of course the Wonderbolts did take action first.
- From Bad to Worse: Rarity's wings are gone and she's plummeting from a great height through Cloudsdale (Which cannot support her since she's not really a Pegasus) to the ground below. Then, in her panicked flailing, she knocks out the Wonderbolts, who are trying to save her. Now Dash has to rescue four ponies.
- Go Ye Heroes, Go and Die: Both Fluttershy and Rarity's attempts to give Dash confidence actually wind up driving her to a breakdown.
- Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: After Rarity's wings burn up, she hangs in the air long enough to make the Oh, Crap! face before falling.
- Homage: Rarity's wings are wrecked when she flies too close to the sun. Speaking of which:
- Icarus Allusion: Twilight Sparkle makes some magical wings for Rarity, warning her that they are very delicate. Ignoring this, Rarity enters a flying competition, deciding to fly as high as possible so that the sun would shine through her wings and cover Cloudsdale in colorful light. The sun wrecks her wings, and Rarity plummets nearly to her death, being saved only at the last moment by Rainbow Dash.
- Limb-Sensation Fascination: Rarity winds up obsessing over how better things are now that she has her wings, instead of cheering Rainbow up, which only increases the stress the pegasus's currently undergoing. She loves discovering how to fly and create patterns with the light through her rainbow wings.
- Magic A Is Magic A: After she's rescued by Rainbow Dash, Rarity has to sit in the Twinkling Balloon; she hasn't had the cloud-walking spell cast on her.
- Mood Whiplash: The Best Young Flyers' competition takes a huge turn for the worse after Rarity's wings disintegrate.
- No Endor Holocaust:
- A pegasus construction worker lets his jackhammer get away from him while mackin' on Rarity. It bores straight through the cloud he was working on. It probably ruined someone's day when it landed...
- The shockwave from a Sonic Rainboom at ground-level should have leveled trees and houses for miles. A sonic boom is a continuous occurrence, being generated by the supersonic object; it doesn't just happen once the sound barrier is breached.
- Not the Fall That Kills You: Nor is it the 2000G of acceleration you would get from a 90-degree turn with that small a radius at Mach 1. Apparently, the Sonic Rainboom somehow alters the laws of physics.
- According to Death Battle, she was actually going around Mach 10...
- Oh, Crap!: Accompanied by quiet "uh-oh"s.
- Rainbow Dash realizes that she won't be able to pull off the Sonic Rainboom during practice.
- Rainbow briefly has this reaction when her non-pegasus friends arrive in Cloudsdale in a hot air balloon, and Pinkie jumps out. Until she safely lands on the cloud, and Twilight explains that she cast a cloud walking spell on them.
- Rarity discovers her wings have just gone poof.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Andrea Libman gets hit from both sides with this one.
- Fluttershy's voice doesn't really lend itself to loud cheering, so she pretty much just uses Pinkie Pie's voice for Fluttershy's loud, excited cheer.
- Similarly, when Pinkie tastes the rainbow, her voice becomes much higher, making her sound like Fluttershy.
- Painting the Frost on Windows: When in Cloudsdale, the Mane Six visit a weather factory, where the pegasi create snowflakes and rainbows.
- Polka-Dot Paint: Pinkie Pie dips a hoof in the liquid rainbow and it retains seven distinct stripes of color, despite dripping off her hoof. She then licks it...and starts breathing multicolored fire! "SPIIIIIIIICYYYYYYYYYY!!!"
- Pride: Dear Celestia, Rarity takes this one Up to Eleven with those new wings. It very damn near becomes her Fatal Flaw.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:Rarity: Look upon me, Equestria! For I! Am! RARITY!
- Rearing Horse: In the introductory scene, Fluttershy does this while inhaling deeply. She still can't muster the cheer Rainbow Dash is looking for.
- Screen Shake: Particularly noticeable and somewhat unusual in this episode when it's caused by Rainbow Dash shouting.
- Schizo Tech:
- Pinkie's foam "#1 finger". Of course, this is Pinkie.
- The announcer at the Best Young Flyers' competition is wearing a wireless microphone.
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Snowflakes are apparently individually hoof-crafted by pegasi in the weather factory. At the rate we see them working, even with the comically oversized snowflakes in the factory, it would probably take all of Equestria to make the snow that falls on Ponyville on the first day of winter. Entirely Played for Laughs, of course.
- When Pinkie Pie tastes the rainbow, her face goes through color changes and fiery breath, similarly to the more notable effects of the prairie oyster in Asterix and the Laurel Wreath.
- When Rarity says she still needs time to prepare, the turn goes to a blonde-maned colt who seems just a little too eager to prove himself...
- Sizable Snowflakes: In the weather factory, the snowflakes being hoof-carved by the pegasi are the size of small dishes. This is notable inconsistent with the rest of the series, where snow is depicted as the uniform white mass it looks like in real life, with none of the plate-sized snowflakes the weather factory apparently manufactures visible anywhere.
- Stealth Pun:
- Pinkie Pie decides to "taste the rainbow" but finds it not to her liking.
- Rainbow Dash hits a wall of air in her first attempt to do the Sonic Rainboom. Evidently, she couldn't break the sound barrier.
- Rarity's fall was caused by an attempt at 15 Minutes of Fame due to Acquired Situational Narcissism. She's a falling star in more ways than one.
- Stock Sound Effect: Fluttershy's loud inhale in the teaser is Pinkie Pie's gasp played backwards. Since they have the same actress, it doesn't stand out much.
- Tap on the Head: Rarity's flailing when she was falling from Cloudsdale punched out all three of the Wonderbolts.
- Tastes Like Purple: Playfully inverted. Apparently, liquid concentrated rainbows (in the most literal sense) taste incredibly spicy, even for Pinkie Pie! And it's no wonder: real rainbows are refractions of light, so a concentrated mouthful of the stuff would taste like Frickin' Laser Beams.
- Thinking Out Loud: Both Rainbow Dash and Rarity think out loud about what they're doing next in their practice or performance, and each looks at the audience on one occasion while doing so.
- Troubled Fetal Position: Rainbow Dash ends up like this when her anxiety gets the better of her.
- Uncanny Valley Makeup: Rarity really overdoes it on the makeup before the Best Young Fliers competition.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Six Wonderbolts perform an acrobatic stunt before the start of the Best Young Flyer Competition. Three of them (Spitfre, Soarin, and Misty Fly) sit in the stands and are the only ones who later try to rescue Rarity. The other three (Silver Zoom, Blaze, and Fire Streak) fly off the top of the screen and aren't seen again.