There is an art to flying, or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. ... Clearly, it is this second part, the missing, that presents the difficulties.
—The Guide[src]

Flying is the action of being sustained above the ground without falling. Although considered one of several "recreational impossibilities", Arthur Dent learnt to fly and flew on Krikkit daily. He also flew with Fenchurch.

How to fly[]

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has a large section on the subject of flying, which details exactly how to master the art of flying.

According to the Guide, the main thing that flying requires is the ability to throw yourself at the ground and miss. It says to throw yourself forward with all your weight and "the willingness not to mind that it's going to hurt", however it will surely hurt if you fail to miss the ground. The difficulty is in missing the ground, and doing so accidentally, as "deliberately intending to miss the ground" does not work.

You have to have your attention suddenly distracted by something else then you're halfway there, so that you are no longer thinking about falling, or about the ground, or about how much it's going to hurt if you fail to miss it.
—The Guide[src]

Flying is notoriously difficult, which is why the majority of people fail and become disillusioned with this particular sport. However, flying can be accomplished if you find yourself distracted at the crucial moment of missing the ground, by things such as "a bomb going off in your vicinity", or "suddenly spotting an extremely rare species of beetle crawling along a nearby twig".

If you find yourself missing the ground completely and "bobbing just a few inches above the ground in what might seem to be a slightly foolish manner", then this is the moment that requires great concentration. The Guide says to "ignore all considerations of your own weight" and to "simply let yourself waft higher" as you float above the ground.

The Guide advises not to listen to what others may say, as they could say something such as: "Good God, man, you can't possibly be flying!". It is vitally important not to believe them or they will suddenly be right, and you will find yourself failing to miss the ground once again.

The final piece of advice that the Guide offers is to "try a few swoops". and then to drift above the treetops, breathing regularly. It is also heavily emphasised to not wave at anybody.

The Guide gives only a small amount of information about how to land; saying that landing is something which can only be learnt properly with experience, and that you will almost certainly "screw up" your first attempt.

Flight schools[]

There are private flying clubs which help fliers to cope with the all-important moment of distraction. They hire people with surprising bodies or opinions to leap out from behind bushes and exhibit and/or explain them at the critical moments. Only a few genuine hitchhikers will be able to afford to join these clubs, but some may be able to get temporary employment at them.




Tertiary Phase[]

Quandary Phase[]

Quintessential Phase[]


  • Karey Kirkpatrick, the screenwriter for the 2005 Hitchhiker's film, cited this as the passage and concept which showed him the genius of Adams and terrified him as to whether he would be able to do the work justice.