Propeller Flying (プロペラ飛行,Puropera hikō?, lit. "Propeller Flight"), also called Airman Tails (ヘリテイル,Heriteiru?, lit. "Helitail"), Heli-Tails, Propeller Flight (プロペラ飛行,Puropera hikō?), and just Fly (フライ,Furai?), is Miles "Tails" Prower's signature move which has appeared in various games in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. When using this move, Tails uses his unique twin tails to achieve flight like a helicopter.
When performing Propeller Flying, Tails twirls his twin tails around like rotary blades, thus creating a lift that lets him fly around in the air like a helicopter. While in flight due to Propeller Flying, Tails can move at speeds nearing that of Sonic the Hedgehog's.
In gameplay, Propeller Flying allows the player to move through the air in any direction, reach higher areas that would be otherwise unreachable, traverse over gaps and bottomless pits, or in some cases damage enemies. Usually however, there is a limit for how long Tails can stay airborne; after flying non-stop for a while, Tails will become exhausted (the circumstances for that differs between games) and slowly drift downward. Sometimes, it adds to the speed and distance. Propeller Flying can also not be used underwater.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Propeller flying first appeared in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, though, it had not been given a name at that point. However, the move is unusable by the player and is only used when Tails dies or falls too far behind Sonic. In the 2013 re-release though, the player is able to perform the move like in the later games.
The move later reappeared in Sonic Chaos as a usable move for the player where it is called Airman Tails (ヘリテイル,Heriteiru?, lit. "Heiltails"). In this game, the player can achieve flight as Tails by pressing up and then press either or . The player can then move around in the air with . However, Tails can only remain airborne for five seconds before slowly descending.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles
In Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and the lock-on Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles, Propeller Flying appeared again as a playable move, though it is not given a name. To perform it in gameplay, the player has to use Spin Jump and then press either , or . The player then has to continue tapping the buttons to make Tails ascend, or let go to descend. While airborne, the player can control Tails' movements with , though Tails will fall to the ground after a while. When playing as both Sonic and Tails, Tails will automatically fly on-screen to catch up to Sonic whenever he dies or falls too far behind Sonic, much like in Sonic 2.
By flying upwards into either bosses or enemies and hitting them with Tails' twirling twin-tails, the player can inflict damage. Additionally, while playing as Sonic the Hedgehog and Tails in the multiplayer, the move can be used by Tails to carry Sonic, allowing both players to reach secret areas that Sonic would not be able to reach on his own.
Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble
In Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble, the move is called Heli-Tails (ヘリテイル,Heriteiru?, lit. "Helitail"). Like in Sonic Chaos, the player has to press up on and then press either or take flight. From there, Tails will remain airborne and his movements can be controlled with . After flying for a while though, Tails will automatically descend to the ground. Noticeably, Tails can also perform Heil-Tails while in midair, though he cannot move upward as such.
In Tails Adventure, the move is again called Heli-Tails. To perform Heli-Tails in gameplay, the player can either press twice or hold up on and press . The player can then direct Tails' flight direction with . While in flight, the player can attack with bombs or drop back to the ground by pressing .
In Tails Adventure, the time Tails can remain airborne with Heli-Tails is measured by the Flight Gauge which depletes while flying; when the Flight Gauge hits empty, Tails can no longer use Heli-Tails and will drop to the ground. The Flight Gauge and the duration of Heli-Tails can be extended by collecting the Chaos Emeralds.
Propeller Flying appeared again in Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut where it is called Propeller Flight (プロペラ飛行,Puropera hikō?). To perform it in gameplay, the player has to press the during the Spin Jump. While airborne, the player can direct Tails with the movement controls. Also, holding the A Button while using Propeller Flight increases upward altitude while not doing anything will make Tails fall slowly down. Also, pressing the / while flying will make Tails suddenly lose altitude. After using it for a while though, Tails will get tired and suddenly drop to the ground.
When using this move, the player gains a much greater ascension than in other games, allowing the player to reach high places rather quickly. Also, if obtaining the Jet Anklet, Tails can move even faster when using Propeller Flight.
Sonic Adventure 2
In Sonic Adventure 2, Tails cannot use the flying move outside of a Chao Garden. In this game, he never tires and as such, the player may fly around continuously.
Sonic Advance series
The move made an appearance in allthreetitles in the Sonic Advance series where it is called Propeller Flying (プロペラ飛行,Puropera hikō?, lit. "Propeller Flight"). To perform it in gameplay, the player has to press during a Spin Jump to take flight. The player can then either continuously tap to ascend, or let go to descend. While flying, Tails can be directed with the . After flying for a while though, Tails falls to the ground. Also, like in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, the player can inflict damage on both bosses and enemies by flying Tails' spinning twin tails directly into them.
In Sonic Advance, if Sonic and Tails are both played together, Tails will use the Propeller Flying to catch up to Sonic if he dies or falls too far behind him, much like in the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis games. In Sonic Advance 3, Tails can only use Propeller Flight when having Sonic as his partner, though he can use different variations of Propeller Flying when partnered up with different characters as well. Tails can also carry other characters whilst flying when the player uses their Tag Action.
Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
Propeller Flying appeared again in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) where it is called Fly. To use the move in gameplay, the player has to press / during a jump. The player can then use the left stick to move in any direction and as well press / to ascend or let go to descend. After flying for a while though, Tails will get tired and drop to the ground. While flying, the player can use the Dummy Ring Blitz. If the player gets damage while flying, the move will be canceled.
In the console/PC version of Sonic Generations, Propeller Flying can be used during the Challenge ActTails: Toxic Skies. Here, the player summons Classic Tails who must carry Classic Sonic through the air using this move. To use in Propeller Flying in gameplay, the player must repeatedly tap / to fly up. In this game, Tails can fly indefinitely without any time limit.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II
In the Single Player mode of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II, Propeller Flight is used by the computer-controlled Tails whenever the Copter Combo is performed. It can only be performed manually in Multiplayer mode and only by the player that controls Tails. The move functions similar to that of Sonic 3 & Knuckles, although the player can perform the move by pressing the Jump Button while in mid-air. Also, the player can cancel the flight by pressing the Jump Button while holding Down, causing Tails to fall to the ground immediately.
Sonic the Hedgehog (2013)
Propeller Flying appeared in the 2013 re-release of the original Sonic the Hedgehog. The move functions identically to that of the 2011 re-release of Sonic the Hedgehog CD. In addition, when playing as Sonic (or Knuckles) and Tails, the player can now control Tails' flight despite only having direct control over Sonic or Knuckles by pressing the Jump button while holding Up. Tails can airlift Sonic or Knuckles if the latter two jump onto Tails' arms and from then on, the player controls Tails' flight in a manner identical to Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles (which previously can only be done with two players). Sonic or Knuckles can detach from Tails' flight if the player holds Down while pressing the Jump button. This can also be performed in the 2013 re-release of Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
Propeller Flying can also be used in a "Sonic & Tails" game while playing alone as Sonic. By pressing the Jump button while holding the Up button in mid-air, Tails will initiate Propeller Flying; Sonic can then jump onto Tails to latch onto him, at which point the player can fly around as if they are controlling Tails. However, Sonic will be knocked off if Tails comes into contact with a solid object or if an outside force influences Tails' movement; once Tails releases his grip on Sonic, the player will resume control over Sonic.
Swimming, or the Dog Paddle, is a move performed by Tails whilst underwater. The move is performed in the exact manner as flying and allows Tails to ascend whilst underwater. While performing the move in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Tails cannot carry Sonic. Any attempt to do so will cause both characters to sink.
High Propeller Flying is a move used by Tails whilst partnered with Cream in Sonic Advance 3. Unlike Tails' conventional flying ability, the High Propeller Flying allows the player to reach greater heights, however, whilst performing the move, Tails will tire quicker.
Hammer Propeller Flying
Hammer Propeller Flying is a move used by Tails whilst partnered with Amy Rose in Sonic Advance 3. Hammer Propeller Flying allows faster flight than that of standard Propeller Flying and also allows the player to use Tails' Piko Piko Hammer by pressing while flying.
The Tail Copter is Tails' signature move in Sonic Rivals 2. It is performed by pressing repeatedly; the move allows Tails to quickly ascend up vertical areas and can only be performed until the Signature Meter runs out.
As with all signature moves, this ability can also be performed by Metal Sonic with own signature move Copycat when racing against Tails.
The Copter Combo is the air Tag Action performed by Sonic and Tails in Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II. Like Tails' air Tag Action in Sonic Advance 3, Tails carries Sonic around whilst flying. In contrast to the usual mechanics, Tails only tires out when the jump button is pressed repeatedly in quick succession, meaning if the player uses the jump button sparingly, Tails will not tire out too quickly. It should be noted that when Tails flies on his own, the game uses the standard mechanics as opposed this.
In other media
Propeller Flying commonly appears in the Sonic the Hedgehog comic series and its spin-offs published by Archie Comics, though it is not named. Much like in the games, only Tails can perform it due to his unique mutation.
In this media, Tails first learned to use Propeller Flying when he was a young child. While hanging out with the young Knothole Freedom Fighters, Sonic was the first to suggest that Tails could use his twin-tails helicopter rotors to fly. With Sonic creating an updraft, Tails learned how to use his twin-tails for flight, thus discovering the Propeller Flying.