The Flash is an absolutely epic character from DC Comics, known as one of the most powerful superheroes in their comics, along with Superman. Most of his powers stem from his connection to a cosmic entity called the Speed Force, allowing him to run, and think at unimaginable speeds. So, if the Flash can run that fast, could he also potentially fly?
Flash can’t fly, at least not in a traditional sense like, for instance, his buddy Superman. However, there are ways he could achieve something similar to flight: jumping incredibly high and fast, manipulating his bodily molecules to glide through the air, running on clouds, etc.
There are many ways that the Flash could use to achieve flight. However, as we go through the article, you’ll see why it is usually a better option for him to run rather than to attempt flight. So, sit back, relax, and learn everything you need to know about the Flash and his ability – better said, potential – to fly.
Can the Flash fly?
As mentioned in the introduction, Flash cannot fly in a traditional sense, as Superman can. Flying is not one of the Flash’s natural abilities, but there are ways he could achieve some forms of flight, which we’ll discuss later. If we’re focusing on traditional flying, then it’s just not an option for the Flash.
I saw a lot of people ask: “Well, couldn’t he just flap his arms really fast to fly?” While it makes sense in theory, the physics behind it just doesn’t add up. You see, when you move any object through air, you move the air molecules around it as well. The faster you move the object, the faster the air molecules move, too.
However, as you move over supersonic speeds (faster than the speed of sound), something paradoxical happens – you start moving faster than the air molecules can fill the space you were just in. Simply put, if you flap your arms too fast, air can’t move fast enough to fill the space where your arm was a moment ago.
That creates pockets of incredibly low pressure – almost vacuum-like, depending on the speed of your movement. That means you’d flap your arms against nothing; hence, you wouldn’t be moving at all. The shape, density, and aerodynamics of the Flash’s arms wouldn’t allow him to fly, no matter how fast he could flap.
Okay, so what if he doesn’t flap them but instead moves them in a circular motion, creating small vortexes of air, and uses them to fly? Technically he could do that, but no matter how fast he moves his arms, he could never achieve true flight.
He could potentially float, but as soon as he tries changing direction or achieving a higher altitude, the force behind the vortexes wouldn’t be enough to hold him airborne.
So, flapping or vortexing wouldn’t work, but we’ve seen some instances in the comics where the Flash seemingly took flight or even ran through the void of space. How is that possible? Well, here’s how the Flash could actually achieve flight or at least something that looks like flying.
How could the Flash achieve flight?
There are ways that the Flash can achieve flight or at least something that looks like flying. He has the ability to manipulate the density of his bodily molecules, essentially meaning he can alter the laws of physics that apply to his body. Here’s how the Flash could achieve flight.
To achieve the insane speeds that the Flash can achieve, you need a lot of force and energy. So, in theory, the Flash could apply that energy to a super high, fast, and long jump and seemingly achieve flight, right? Well, in theory, yes, but it’s not that simple.
You see, the Flash doesn’t have a healing factor or invulnerability like Superman. Should he jump so high and fast, he’d have to hit the ground at some point. If he did, he likely wouldn’t survive the landing.
There was this instance in the comics where we saw Kid Flash run so fast that he seemingly lost control and started flying. The Flash explained what was going on – he reached such a high velocity that his kinetic energy became equal to the magnitude of the gravitational potential energy.
In other words, there was no friction energy between him and the ground anymore, and he just started floating. The only way he could stop it was to control his body mass through vibration to get that gravitational pull back and stop going up.
Altering body molecules
One of the Flash’s more unknown abilities is to alter his body molecules – specifically, his body density. If he does that, it means he can alter his mass, and with that, he can influence the laws of physics around him, such as gravity, friction, etc. If he can do that correctly, he can defy the regular laws of gravity.
That would allow the Flash to, for instance, run on dust particles in the air, making it look like he was flying. That’s kind of what he did in the scan you see below from Flash Vol. 4 #26.
Essentially, the Flash ran on a cloud instead of actually flying. The Altostratus clouds are composed of tiny ice crystals, and Barry vibrated his feet in such a way as to create enough updraft to attract the ice crystals underneath his feet and essentially run on them instead of actually flying.
Ambient speed energy
This one kind of feeds off of the previous theory we explained. In the following scan, you can see the Flash carrying a person through the air, seemingly flying them to safety.
He explains, however, that he’s not actually flying. Instead, he’s using the ambient speed energy in the air, which was thick enough for him to actually run on it and safely glide down to the ground without crashing. That means he can’t do it whenever he wants; he can only do it in certain environments and atmospheres.
Last but not least, if the Flash becomes one with the Speed Force instead of just slightly tapping into it, there’s virtually nothing he couldn’t do. Not only could Barry run on air, but he could also run through the void of space unaided and even run through time itself. Hence, he isn’t really flying nor time-traveling, but running fast enough to achieve both.