Simple question, hopefully not broad.

This is the 21st century, everything that we have. Technology to make cars, planes, trains, boats, all of that stuff. But then, in this world, everybody is a winged-human, or angels.

So my question is:

What would a civilization of angels use for transportation, and why if they could just fly to places?

  • 2
    One thing to be aware of: if you've got big feathery wings on your back, which are likely to be somewhat delicate in nature, it's going to affect the design of your seats. You're not going to want the same chair ergonomics as humans, with a big padded bowl that you lean your entire upper body weight back against. – Mason Wheeler Dec 6 at 22:39
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    I'll bet It is tough even for angel to hold an umbrella while flying during rainy day, especially when zeus is washing his thunderbolt – user6760 Dec 6 at 23:45
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    A partial answer to "why" (not read everything) - to still be able to get around if a wing is injured, amputated, not formed correctly. Also to avoid lightning during storms; strong winds making self transportation difficult or dangerous; limitations of endurance, speed, strength. – gabe3886 Dec 7 at 9:24
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    Is this about angels or winged humanoids? Because the two are not necessarily the same even is sometimes depicted that way. First of all, angels would be supernatural, winged humanoids wouldn't be (in-universe). Angels will most likely be related and dependent on religion, winged humanoids do not necessarily be. The question even makes very little sense for angels - they would likely manifest somewhere by the will of God, so "transportation" is a strange concept to apply here. Also, they might not even be winged or humanoid - for example wheels within wheels with rims of eyes. – vlaz Dec 7 at 10:26
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    A winged humanoid is not the same thing as an angel. See my answer to this question movies.stackexchange.com/questions/93666/… that shows some of the differences between angels and winged humanoids. – M. A. Golding Dec 7 at 19:11
up vote 21 down vote accepted

We have transportation because of our flimsy legs, and convenience. Would you like to walk one mile for 15 minutes, or drive the same distance under a minute?

I believe this will be the same concept for winged humans. If it's more convenience for them to use transportation, they will do so. In this case, planes will definitely still be viable for long distance travels to other countries.

But we don't just use transportation to get one person from A to B. We use it to transport goods as well. Would a winged human fly all the way to the store and back while carrying groceries? Probably not. Hence, huge boats carrying goods from one country to another is still going to be used. Luxury cruises will still be there. Trucks delivering goods from warehouse to the stores is still required. And cars will help winged humans from bringing back groceries or furniture from the store to their homes.

I think that infrastructure would be the biggest change for a civilization of winged humans. Perhaps there's a lot more tall buildings, as they're easily accessible for one that can fly all the time. Doors at the ground is no longer the entrance, perhaps a lobby in the middle of a tall skyscraper would make more sense. But I'm getting off-topic here.

In short: Yes, transportation is still going to be used by winged humans due to convenience.

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    ...not to mention, pterosaurs are less likely to try to eat flying aluminum planes than flying humanoids. – HopelessN00b Dec 7 at 0:05
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    Plus, Chicago in winter... you don't necessarily want to fly under your own power everywhere all the time. – Monica Cellio Dec 7 at 4:46
  • And Angels can't necessarily cruise at 300 MPH across an ocean... +1 – Joe Bloggs Dec 7 at 10:11
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    Good answer, +1, but it's got me thinking about how disabilities would be handled. In our world, where we generally expect most people to be able to walk, we have ramps outside buildings to support people in wheelchairs. I imagine that our society of flying people would have a law meaning they wouldn't be allowed to put lobbies and things half way up a skyscraper, so that disabled flightless angels can still visit the local library. – ymbirtt Dec 7 at 11:26
  • Worth a mention: there are some city-dwelling pigeons that have been spotted using the train to get where they want to go (areas far from their nests with a lot of available food). They do this on a regular basis, so it seems to be deliberate. – IndigoFenix Dec 11 at 6:22

Humans can walk from place A to place B, so why do we need land transportation? Movement is tiring, energy consuming. True flight would be quicker, but still laziness drives inventions.

Land

The main reason these angels would have for traveling over land would be transport of goods. Therefore, most of their land based vehicles would develop in that direction. They'd develop means that are similar to ours: cattle drawn carriages, then the emergence of motor vehicles, with trains and trucks being the focus.

Alongside that things that make short distance travel possible would also be favorable, as most long distance travel will be quicker through flight. The human equivalent of bicycles will not happen as bikes do not seem like a comfortable travel option with the wind wreaking havoc on your wings. I assume the first form of passenger travel vehicles will be sort of like tricycles, with a windshield up front. They'll not be a prevalent form of transport though. Cars will come around eventually, but these will be decrepit, roomy machines compared to what we have.

Water

Water transports will develop in parallel to how ships developed in real world. The water bodies will remain the easiest form of transporting goods across long distances. Boats and ships will develop as such.

Ships designed to carry passengers will also be equally prevalent, as they offer the option to distant lands in comfort. Unpredictable weather and lack of resting grounds will convince even the most hard headed angels that he cannot simply fly to the distant lands across the sea.

Flight

I believe this is where the technology will be most alien. The first form of air transport will most likely not travel.

While flying itself is tiring, taking off after landing takes huge bursts of energy. Angels will prefer to use higher grounds as take off points so they can just drop and catch the air instead of producing vertical lift. But finding a high ground to rest may not always be possible.

The first form of aerial transports would be these cluster of hot air balloons that are rooted in a fixed position. These will act as land marks for watering spots. The angels land on them, and these balloons then transport the angel to the town under them. Once his/her stay is over, the balloon lifts them up again, so they may take off.

While humans also started out with hot air balloons, the angels will take the balloon technology further, and not go the typical airplane route. I cannot imagine a being capable of flight willing to be strapped down to a metal cylinder with bad air-service to fly.

I imagine Zeppelins would be more prominent, some hosting on-the-air tavern service for the weary travelers, or offering services to take them a certain distance while they rest their wings.

Airplanes will eventually develop, with the focus again being on transportation of goods. But this change will come around much slower than with humans, due to the tangent it took, and probably not be as advanced as our 21st century equivalent.

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    How about elevators/lifts to get the winged people to high points? Elevators were in use for hundreds of years, but until Otis made a fail-safe brake, they were dangerous to use. With open elevators, a winged person could just fly/glide off and they would have been used long before other transport mechanisms. – Tangurena Dec 7 at 0:51
  • @Tangurena Fair point. But these angels would be flying cross country, and so traveling at high altitudes. The balloons would be at ~2000ft to avoid tree lines or other nearby obstacles, and also to ease how much altitude the angel has to regain after take off. Almost every town having a tower of that size to support elevator structure did not seem plausible in the earlier ages. – optimisticOrca Dec 7 at 3:29

1980's cartoons gave us the answer. They would use horses:

I always wondered if the horse would fall should Venger dismount in air

No reason other than the Rule of Cool.

There is biblical precedent for this. The four horde en of the apocalypse happen to be angels, as far as I know.

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    The four horsemen are described as just that. They are called horsemen, there is no mention of wings or them being angelic. The fourth is actually called Death, but afaik there is no proof of Death having wings in the Bible. Sorry for the nitpick :P, might have been even more epic though. – Mixxiphoid Dec 7 at 9:42

You could make it a class system. I'd imagine everyone flying at once would look like Woodstock. So the skies could be reserved for arch-angels or other figures of authority while the lower choir could be restricted to teleportation hubs

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