Can a plane stop in the air?

Poster: STANCOBRIDGE | Date: 1:19pm, 25th Feb 2018. | Views: 82 | 1 Replies
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STANCOBRIDGE. Jalingo, Taraba
1:19pm, 25th Feb 2018.

Matthew Lee

studied at Aperture Science

You mean… like this?

(F-35B Lightning II)

The F-35 has a thrust vectoring nozzle that can curl downward as well as a separate lift-fan at the middle of the plane to help it hover.

It is a STOVL (Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing) aircraft. Which means that it will take off normally rolling on a runway, although the speed it needs until lift off is considerably lower than that of many aircraft. Then, it can land vertically like a helicopter.

Technically, it can stop in the air.

But for true VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing), in short, just like a helicopter, however, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Such as this guy:

(V-22 Osprey)

You can see two giant rotors there. The orientation of the engine nacelles can be changed to adjust its speed and heading.

What you’re seeing above is the Osprey coming in for a vertical landing, just like a helicopter.

This is in a normal flight, like your typical aeroplane.

General Consensus: And I’m floating in a most peculiar way.

Martin Bullen

former Retired

The Fairey Swordfish (the torpedo bomber which disabled the Bismark) was renowned for not being able to make any headway over the ground if it was flying into a strong wind.

Aircraft carriers often had to slow down a little to allow them to recover the plane. It would then come over the flight deck, throttle back, and land vertically.


During the Korean war in the early 1950’s, HMS Theseus was sailing through the Mediterranean Sea, en route to the Far East. To keep the pilots’ skills intact, flying off the carrier was a regular part of the voyage. To help the aircraft by increasing their airspeed on take-off and landing, the carrier sailed at full speed into wind.

On recovering aircraft after such a flight, all but one aircraft was safely landed back on board. Then a plaintive cry was heard over the radio. “Hey, fellows, wait for me”. A Swordfish was getting further and further behind. The carrier slowed and allowed the Swordfish to catch up and land.

Malcolm Teas

Private pilot with IFR rating.

Generally no. Some specialized military planes can, but only with very strong engines and lots of fuel use to make the thrust to hold them up.

But that’s unusual and the exception. Planes need air flowing across the wings to generate lift, lift is what we call the force that holds the plane up. Essentially the wings push down an equivalent mass of air to the mass of the plane. So either you have very powerful engines, or you move.

Helicopters work by moving the wings (the rotor) instead of attaching the wings in a fixed way to the aircraft. Airplanes work by moving the aircraft with the wings attached.

Richard Clive Rowlands

works at Events and Festivals

Yes. I have seen the Eurofighter stop in the air at the Farnborough Air show.

Having taking it up, he then pointed it into the wind and tipped it back so he was almost vertical. Then he balanced the force from the engines exactly against the wind and gravity. Stopped. He then pointed it a little more vertical and he was moving backwards. Amazing to watch.

Greg Harris

Straits Air Freight Express (SAFE) NZ (An Airbus Group Company) used to fly the Bristol Type 170 Freighter (Bristol Freighter - Wikipedia) through Wellington NZ.

These aircraft had a slow stall speed and Wellington has always been known for high winds.

Now for some second hand info...

My Dad told me that he had once seen one of the Bristol Freighters approaching Wellington very slowly into the strong Wellington southerly with the engines straining against the wind and at times when there was a strong gust, the plane would stop moving forward at all, to the point of even moving backwards relative to the land.

I don’t know if it is a true story, but it sounds good :-).

Eugene Radchenko

lives in Russia (1979-present)

'Normal' planes can do that just momentarily, like in this video

Ömer Kaşdarma

studied at METU, Ankara

Well I think depending on the wind an AN-2 can hover and even fly backwards.

Keith Burton

Sure, I’ve even flown backwards several times. All it takes is wind speed that’s above your minimum flying speed, which for light planes, isn’t all that rare.

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