Do Namor’s ankle wings in ‘Black Panther 2’ really work?

But you don’t have to be a superhero to experience this type of flying. If you have a set of carbon fiber wings and four engines, you can fly like Yves Rossyalso known as “Jetman.”

Fly like a rocket

Photo: Moviestore / Alamy . Collection

Illustrated by: Rhett Allin

Iron Man no wings. He doesn’t need them. Instead, his armor (most likely Not made of iron) gives him increased strength, some kind of stronger fire from his hands, and most importantly – flight. Iron Man appears to fly using something like rockets placed on his feet and hands.

I’m not sure exactly how his suit generates thrust, but it seems to work like most rockets do, with that mass – the exhaust – firing out of the thruster. Since this ejected exhaust has mass and velocity, it also has momentum. But to change the momentum of an object (like the mass of the exhaust being ejected), you need to apply a force. If the suit pushes the mass away, the mass pushes the suit back, creating the underlying thrust. This is similar to how a rocket flies through Earth’s atmosphere on its way into space. (This is more detailed way about “rocket equation” than you might ever want.)

But there is an important difference between rockets and jet engines. Both push mass backwards to create thrust. Aircraft’s jet engines draw air from the outside of the aircraft and use the fuel combined with the air as the ejection mass. However, a rocket engine uses only fuel. It doesn’t need air. That’s why rockets work in space, but airplane engines don’t.

In my opinion, the Iron Man suit is more of a rocket than a jet engine — but I should point out that Gravity Industries made a flying suit it is very similar to Iron Man but uses jet engines.


Vision, word Avengers: Age of Ultron, is a synthetic life form. He has many classic superpowers (like strength, speed, endurance), but he can also change his density. For that reason, when Vision flies, I assume it’s because he’s really just floating in the air.

Is it possible to make a superhero float? The answer is yes. Anything will float as long as it has the same density as air, which is about 1.2 kg per cubic meter. For example, if you need build a floating metal sphere can act as your superbug lair, you can — as long as it’s large enough that the density of the air inside is equal to the density of the air outside.

In the real world, this is the principle behind airplane-like flying machines. Basically, air has mass. If you take a cube with sides 1 meter and fill it with air, the mass of air will be 1.2 kilograms (2.6 pounds). Since air is suspended in the air, that 1 cubic meter of space must have an upward force equal to the weight of that air mass. If you replace the air mass with something else, the outside air will still push on it with a force equal to the weight of the displaced air mass. And if you replace it with something lighter than air, like helium, the air pushes the cube upwards and it floats — like a bulge.


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