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86 votes
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What clothes would flying-people wear?

Everyone else is speculating when there are proper reality check examples. Flight suits that allow for free movement of wings, legs and tail are a thing. Some also contain diapers, so that your bird ...
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66 votes
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Are flying plants possible?

It's more likely there could exist a plant which has a flying phase of its life-cycle. Does it really fly? It might be more appropriate to call it floating, since the energy required for what is ...
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60 votes

Parachute equivalent when there is no ground

You could use the same back-up plan that the majority of flights in real life use: nothing. The vast majority of civilian flights in the real world have no parachutes. If a catastrophic disaster ...
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59 votes
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Would a steam powered plane be able to cross the Atlantic ocean?

Here is a scheme to sidestep some problems with steam engines in an alternate past. Problem: Fuel is heavy Solution: Do not carry fuel. https://images.fineartamerica.com/images/artworkimages/...
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  • 272k
58 votes
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A Bird that Never Touches Ground

Evolution Since the defining feature is not nesting on ground, the starting point should be the nesting behaviour. There should be a strong pressure to reduce time spent on the ground such as ...
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51 votes
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Can birds evolve without trees?

Trees were not involved with the evolution of flight in birds. Birds did not evolve flight from gliders but likely from ground running predatory jumpers, birds and maniraptoran dinosaurs are about ...
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50 votes
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In a society of flying beings, would the wheel ever be invented?

I would certainly expect the wheel to be invented. Sure, the society can fly, but can barrels of fine wine, flour, or iron ore? If the society grows large enough, it will eventually need to ...
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  • 4,366
49 votes

How would one attack or lay siege to a flying castle?

Let's revisit the premise that the sky-castle has a year's worth of water stored on it. As a corollary to this premise, we should assume that the stored water won't become stagnant or otherwise ...
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  • 26.6k
48 votes

Would a steam powered plane be able to cross the Atlantic ocean?

You may be missing why flight didn't happen until the early 1900s. Flight happened when engines became energy-dense enough. That's what they were waiting for. If it could've been done with steam, ...
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46 votes
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Humans can now fly. What happens to the transportation industry?

This is looking long-term...after the initial surge of people taking to the air occurs has died down a bit. The airline industry would be untouched...no one takes a plane for a 15 mile trip. Aircraft ...
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  • 10.6k
44 votes

Parachute equivalent when there is no ground

the air only gets denser, and denser The craft (or lifeboats stored on them) are very light. They are designed with lots of air spaces. When they start to fall, all openings to the outside are sealed ...
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43 votes

How would one attack or lay siege to a flying castle?

From a safe distance, your sappers excavate a tunnel. The tunnel leads to the tether point of the castle's anchor chain. Bring the tether down into the tunnel from below. Winch it along the tunnel....
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42 votes
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How do I prevent flight in a cyberpunk future?

In a last ditch effort to prevent extinction (possibly one that worked, after all people are still here) a team of scientists released a swarm of nano-machines into the atmosphere. They form a slight (...
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  • 76k
40 votes

Would an evolutionary predecessor for winged quadrupeds start with four legs and gain wings? Or start with two legs and wings and gain extra legs?

How about neither? Tetrapods evolved straight from lobe-finned fish; essentially no-limbs to four-limbs. You could have a similar process, except when the fish were developing limbs they ended up with ...
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40 votes
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How to prevent the evolution of human flight?

Magic is a dense material. Magic is quite dense. It tends to fall down with gravity, and tends to cling to the earth. As such, if you get too far above the ground, there tends to be little magic left. ...
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39 votes
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How would the existence of large rideable flying creatures have changed the design of castles?

For the sake of this answer, I will be assuming that by "castles" you mean late medieval/early Renaissance pre-gunpowder fortifications that were used for habitation as well as defense. I was also ...
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  • 566
39 votes

Possible cause of a world without flying animals

The first flying insects appeared (as far as we know) in the Devonian, some 400 million years ago. Before that there were no flying animals. So not only is a world without flying animals possible, our ...
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  • 73k
38 votes

Are flying plants possible?

Well, it all depends! :) There are tumbleweeds which grow, produce seeds, then die, break off and the whole plant moves by the wind, depositing its seeds in different ways, it's sort of like flying. ...
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  • 48.6k
38 votes

How could a lightning magic user fly?

Ion flight. http://news.mit.edu/2018/first-ionic-wind-plane-no-moving-parts-1121 Unlike turbine-powered planes, the aircraft does not depend on fossil fuels to fly. And unlike propeller-driven ...
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37 votes
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How can a dragon take off to the air silently?

Owls & co. already do this, thanks to the particular structure of their feather. Since I imagine your dragons don't have feather, they might have some structure leading to the same result. ...
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  • 236k
36 votes

What atmospheric density would be required to allow a human being to fly without wings?

We call this "swimming" and you'd need an atmospheric density roughly that of water. The pressure needed to get a gas at that density has serious physiological effects, so just compressing the right ...
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  • 14.1k
36 votes

Could you design a fighter plane for a centaur?

You definitely could. However, I have thought of a few additional concerns: How do you strap in?: Human pilots preferentially sit in a chair, and can easily be belted in. How do you strap in a ...
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  • 2,630
35 votes
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Airship lifeboats, design alternatives

The safest place is still aboard your airship. Unlike seagoing vessels, airships do not traverse a medium that is potentially deadly for humans. When a ship sinks, people need to still be able to ...
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  • 12k
34 votes

LED light or heating element?

You would want to use a heating element. If you use a light (whether visible light from a LED or infrared from a quartz heating element), some of the energy is turned into light, rather than heat. ...
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  • 129k
34 votes
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How do migratory dragons avoid being blinded by sun?

Don't worry about it. What you describe is the cruising height of a passenger airliner. If you have ever looked out the window of such a plane you will know the light is often bright but not ...
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  • 37k
33 votes
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Could you fly a Boeing 747 on Venus?

While in theory the atmospheric pressures and temperatures in the upper regions of Venus' atmosphere are more conducive to the operation of aircraft, you still have a problem; sulphur dioxide. This is ...
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  • 53.8k
33 votes

Could you design a fighter plane for a centaur?

Yes, it would be possible to build a plane that a centaur could fly using WWI technology, but the centaurs would still be at a severe disadvantage because they would need to build very big and non-...
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  • 19.2k
32 votes

In a society of flying beings, would the wheel ever be invented?

moving things around (mathematics argument) The wheel, or basically any spherical object, has the advantage of being the simplest shape which center of mass remains at the same height when rolling (...
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  • 12.1k
32 votes
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How could a sail powered airship work?

I've thought about this a bit in the past. It's possible, but only if the vessel moves vertically between regions of different wind speed. On a regular ship, lift forces can be generated on the sails ...
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  • 45.5k
31 votes

How can I make steampunk airships less flimsy?

You're starting from a false premise. Look at the performance of airships during World War I to see how things really work out. The Zeppelin bombers could take an incredible amount of punishment ...
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