The top things that fly in Roald Dahl’s books

Posted by
The Roald Dahl Museum
Posted on
4:00pm, 17th May
Charlie, James, Matilda, Museum, The Twits
Top things that fly in Roald Dahl's books

From Mrs Twit to the giant peach - take a look at our top 11 things that soar, sail, take off and float away in Roald's books.

1. The Pelly

The bird with the unique beak - big enough to hold an entire burglar, and bulletproof to boot! His epic flying abilities made him a master at window cleaning and a super criminal catcher, swooping in through a window to apprehend a jewellery thief. Our hero!

From The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me

2. Giant Peach

OK, so the giant peach had a little help from no less than 501 seagulls to become airborne, but it still flew all the way across the Atlantic to America. Dodging evil aunts, sharks, and angry Cloudmen, it carried James and his insect friends to New York, where it landed on top of the Empire State Building – how’s that for an entrance!

From James and the Giant Peach

Illustration of the giant peach

3. The Swan

A less well-known flying thingaling perhaps, but just as exciting to read about. The Swan features in Roald Dahl’s last book, Billy and the Minpins. The Swan carries Little Billy through the forest on his back in a brave attempt to defeat the Red-Hot Smoke-Belching Gruncher (try saying that quickly!). Do they succeed? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

From Billy and the Minpins

4. The Gregg family

Imagine waking up to realise that you were turning into a duck! That’s exactly what happened to the Gregg family in The Magic Finger after Girl put a spell on them. Although the family now had wings instead of arms, and had to make nests in trees while giant ducks moved into their house, there was an upside – they got to fly!

“’Isn’t it lovely!’ cried William. ‘I’ve always wanted to know what it feels like to be a bird!’”

From The Magic Finger

5. The Roly-Poly Bird

The most colourful, most extraordinary, most wonderful bird! This multilingual, well-travelled bird from Africa used its flying abilities to escape from the Enormous Crocodile and to rescue Muggle-Wump the monkey from the dastardly Twits. All while looking utterly marvellous. We salute you!

From The Enormous CrocodileThe Twits and Dirty Beasts

The Roly-Poly Bird illustration

6. The Enormous Crocodile

A flying crocodile? It’s not possible you cry! Well, if you’ve ever read The Enormous Crocodile you’ll know that it is. In fact, the Enormous Crocodile flew a very long way, past trees, and clouds and the moon and the stars. All the way to the sun! That’s what you get for being a very naughty crocodile.

From The Enormous Crocodile

7. Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl? A flying thing in his own book? What are you talking about? Let us explain. If you’ve ever picked up a copy of Going Solo you’ll have read about Roald Dahl’s time as a pilot in World War Two. In fact, Roald Dahl was a Flying ACE! He loved flying; when talking about his flying training he said “What a fortunate fellow I am, I kept telling myself. Nobody has ever had such a lovely time as this!”. His time in the RAF actually gave him the idea for his first children’s book – The Gremlins.

From Going Solo

8. Amanda Thripp

Poor Amanda Thripp, who went sailing across the playground - a reluctant flyer, but a flyer nonetheless. All she did was turn up to school with pigtails (what’s wrong with that!?), but it bought out the inner Olympic hammer thrower in Miss Trunchbull, the formidable headmistress. She grabbed Amanda by the horrifically offending hair and spun her round, over and over, before releasing her up into the air.

We never did like that teacher!

From Matilda

Amanda Thripp illustration

9. The Glass Elevator

“The lift rushed on, going up and up and up, faster and faster and faster…”

When is a lift not a lift? When it smashes through the top of a chocolate factory and flies so high it heads into orbit! That’s when. Cue zero gravity fun, alien encounters and towing some astronauts from a space hotel to safety. How’s that for a flying adventure?!

From Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

10. The Cow

You can find the Cow lurking somewhere in the pages of Dirty Beasts. Her name is actually Miss Milky Daisy and she was rather special. She grew a magnificent pair of gold and silver wings, which emerged from some lumpy, bumpy bits on her back. How marvellous! It turns out a cow can have lots of fun flying through the air. A bit too much fun actually -  watch out if you’re below her! Splat!

From Dirty Beasts

11. Mrs Twit

Some might feel sorry for her. Some might say she got what she deserved. Either way Mrs Twit’s flying experience in The Twits is the stuff of literary legend. After initially trying to stretch out his wife by attaching helium balloons to her, Mr Twit eventually decided to set her loose! What a sight; a grumpy, cold-hearted lady floating through the sky, carried by 60 colourful balloons. At least she was tenacious enough to set herself free!

From The Twits

Mrs Twit balloons