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I am referring to one of the last scenes in Toy Story, when Woody and Buzz land inside Andy´s car through the sunroof.

Before that (in Sid's house) Buzz tried but couldn't fly and lost his arm. But then, it seems like he's not losing height and lands perfectly inside the car.

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    This comes down to wether you think unpowered gliding is "flying". – JPhi1618 Sep 6 '18 at 19:41
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    @JPhi1618 *falling with style – ESR Sep 7 '18 at 6:21
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    Flagging to migrate to Aviation.SE. ;) – maxathousand Sep 7 '18 at 15:20
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The film's original script strongly indicates that Buzz and Woody are gliding (referred to as "soaring") rather than engaged in any sort of powered flight. Although it makes reference to them "flying" over the roof of the car, I think we can assume this is intended hyperbolically rather than literally.

BUZZ: This isn't flying. This is falling -- with style!

WOODY: Ha ha!! To Infinity and Beyond!!

They soar gracefully towards the moving truck, but then pass over it.

WOODY: Uh, Buzz?! We missed the truck!

BUZZ: We're not aiming for the truck!

ANGLE: FAMILY VAN

Buzz and Woody fly right over the van's sun roof and then drop into the car.

As far as them not losing height (appearing to go back up into the sky), this is because Buzz performs a stall-down, exchanging speed for a small increase in height until his velocity is no longer sufficient to create lift.


The film's read-along storybook offers us some additional confirmation.

[The two of them glided over Andy's moving van]

Woody: Hey Buzz, you're flying!

[The two of them dipped through the sunroof and landed in the box next to Andy]

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    "Not a flying toy" – Valorum Sep 6 '18 at 18:58
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    His wings don't look nearly large enough to glide that well with a load of that much plastic and stuffing. But, well, why worry about details of physics in a universe with living toys. – aschepler Sep 6 '18 at 23:01
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    @aschepler just additional confirmation that Disney is in league with the Devil. – tox123 Sep 7 '18 at 1:34
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    I don't think this answers the question. If Buzz can glide this well, why did he crash so hard when jumping from a banister in Sid's house? He would have had enough airspeed to pull out of the dive somewhat. Or if he needed a huge airspeed to glide that well outdoors, where did it come from? As @aschepler says, his glide ratio isn't plausibly good enough to reach the car from a window of the house. i.e. why did the filmmakers choose to violate physics for story reasons here (when they were otherwise somewhat consistent), and what exactly justifies it? (been a while since I saw Toy Story) – Peter Cordes Sep 7 '18 at 2:29
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    @PeterCordes - I think the in-universe reason is basically that on the earlier occasion, Buzz simply assumes that he would be able to fly and therefore doesn't attempt to pull out of the dive until it's too late. After all, TV-show Buzz would gracefully pull out at the last second and fly away dramatically, because that's just what that kind of character does. It's only after the experience of failing to fly that toy-Buzz realises he needs a different approach, and is careful to preserve his momentum and avoid attempting sudden changes in direction, etc. – Jules Sep 7 '18 at 3:11
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After reading Valorum's answer and the film's script, I'd like to post an alternative analysis:

Yes, they are flying. The same original script that Valorum posted says it explicitly:

Just then Buzz banks under some power lines and soars upward again. Woody takes a peek.

They're flying.

WOODY: Hey, Buzz!! You're flying!!

Because he was indeed flying, he then answered

BUZZ: This isn't flying. This is falling -- with style!

This presented the viewers with the opposite situation to what happened when Buzz made his "flying" demonstration in Andy's room. Then, he didn't fly at all, which is why Woody said

WOODY: That wasn't flying! That was falling with style!

Obviously, Buzz's flight is an element of fantasy that is only shown in that critical, final scene, as Buzz can't fly in any other moment in any movie.

In reality, Buzz wouldn't be able to fly, but he probably wouldn't be able to glide either. In reality, they would probably just plummet to the ground. If the movie is giving Buzz a fantastic ability in that scene, Why simply make him "glide" instead of "fly" given that a critical aspect of the script is Buzz thinking he can fly?

Also: I'm not a native English speaker, so I'm not sure about how is the word "soar" used in the US, but Oxford Dictionary says that a definition of "soar" is "fly or rise high in the air". I don't think they used "soar" with the other meaning (gliding).

  • I think you've mistaken Woody's confusion at finding himself gliding. Buzz corrects him instantly. – Valorum Sep 7 '18 at 13:44
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    I think Buzz doesn't "correct him", but he jokingly repeats what Woody said previously when he couldn't fly at all. Also, the "They're flying" sentence isn't written in the script as something "Woody thinks", but as a fact. – Racso Sep 7 '18 at 13:51
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    As someone with a little experience of "Gliding" - in the UK, Gliding is a sport that is un-motorised aircraft, where in the US this sport is referred to as "Soaring". They also refer to them as "Sailplanes" (which some other areas of the world do too. Some people (in the UK at least) seem to refer to Soaring as using Ridges or Meteorological things (like waves or convergence zones) to get height, and Gliding to use Thermals: depending where are in the world, some of these are more prevalent. i.e. Ridge Soaring is a phrase used a lot, but Ridge Gliding not. – Jmons Sep 7 '18 at 14:22
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    @Jmons I'm not a huge aviation buff, but in the US, I've only heard that activity referred to as "gliding", not "soaring" – Kevin Sep 7 '18 at 15:04
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    Your answer discounts the character development immediately preceding this. Buzz finally accepts that he's a toy with much stricter limitations than the TV Show Buzz, but that life as a toy can be good, too. So by him echoing Woody's line, he's showing that he's learned his limitations and is working within their bounds. – Carduus Sep 7 '18 at 18:33

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