Chapter Eight “Flight Training Begins”
Merely three days had passed since the party and Rainbow Dash was already confident of Applejack's wing's ability.
“OK AJ, I think you're ready to soar,” Rainbow Dash said after watching Applejack launch herself ten times higher than she had when they had first begun doing the jump training.
“Ah don't know Rainbow, you sure?”
“It'll be easy trust me,” Rainbow Dash said as she walked towards Applejack. “Just move you're wings like this,” Rainbow Dash moved her wings in a semi-circular fashion as if flying, but didn't put enough force to lift off.
“Like this,” Applejack asked, then flapped her wings similarly to when she was jumping, which led her to vault forward and land on her face.
Chuckling, Rainbow Dash helped Applejack up, “not quite, you need to think about direction from now on, you're not just going up, you're going up and forward, or up and back in some cases, you need to change the direction you are flapping your wings.”
“You ain't said anything about that till now, how am I s'posed to do that?”
Rainbow Dash turned perpendicular to Applejack to show her wings to her and began moving them in the circular motion, “it's like rotating you're arm, as if you were bowling with you're wing, except you go up not down.”
Applejack stared for a moment at what Rainbow Dash was doing, and then began trying it herself. At first she pulled her wings straight back, then forward, then she pulled them slightly down, slightly below what would be needed for gliding then slightly above. She then began to make small circles in the air, and gradually got bigger, but still did not have the full range of motion that Rainbow Dash had with her wings.
Rainbow Dash smiled when she saw Applejack was beginning to get the concept, “good, now try to get a running start and fly up and see if you can stay in the air for a bit.”
“OK I think ah'm ready,” Applejack said as she braced herself for a sprint. She sprang forward in full charge, which at this point had become a force to be reckoned with on it's own, and after about two seconds sprang into the air and began furiously beating her wings. She made it off the ground and stayed airborne for several feet before falling to the ground.
“OK, you almost had it,” Rainbow Dash said as she flew to meet the grounded Applejack.
“Why couldn't ah stay in the air?”
“You weren't using enough control, you have to beat your wings in time, or else you will lose most of your momentum in the air and crash.”
“You know Dash, you're startin to sound a bit like Twilight with this flyin stuff.”
Rainbow Dash looked a little offended at the statement, “and whada you mean by that,” she asked launching herself backwards and into the air.
“Ah calm down Rainbow, I just mean you sure do know a lot about flying.”
Looking a little bit relieved at not being called an egg head, Rainbow Dash settled to the ground, “oh, well of course, it's what I'm good at.”
“So I need ta pace myself?”
“Well yeah, at first, then once you've built up some speed and altitude you can really go all out, but when you get there you'll need better form.”
Rainbow Dash sighed, “right now, the way your flying, it wastes a lot of energy, and you'll wear yourself out in seconds, and won't be able to go all that fast. You could say the harder you try the less you'll actually get done.”
“Well how do I fix it?”
Rainbow Dash looked slightly irritated and nervous at the same time, “honestly it's pretty hard to learn, it's something most pegasi will pick up early on, I'm not sure how to teach it to you.”
Applejack thought for a moment, “well can't you just show me how to move my wings more 'effectively' like you did with basic flight?”
Rainbow Dash considered it for a moment, “well not really, you need to be in the air to realy move your wings the way I need to move them, and that kinda is half the problem.”
Applejack smiled slightly at Rainbow Dash's remark, “well if that's our only problem ah think ah got it covered.”
Rainbow Dash looked thoroughly confused, “huh?”
Smiling even more broadly, Applejack's horn began to glow, and then her entire body began to glow, she lifted about an inch off the ground and looked down at Rainbow Dash, “will this about do it.”
Stunned for a second Rainbow Dash took a moment to respond, “ya know, I almost forgot you could do that.”
They both laughed for a moment then went to work. Rainbow Dash began explaining the intricacies of wing movement to Applejack, while repositioning her body and wings. Rainbow Dash even took the time to explain wind resistance, and how proper positioning of both wings and body could increase speed dramatically.
“So AJ, you think your ready for some serious flying now?”
Applejack had been paying close attention during the last twenty minutes, and felt pretty confident she understood what to do, “ah'm ready!”
Applejack ran about five feet forward and jumped off the ground and with a few flaps of her wings began to soar. After ten feet of flying she was quickly approaching a nearby tree, she yelped slightly and gave a large and powerful flap of her wings and shot over the tree. She soared for a moment just above the treetops before Rainbow Dash caught up with her, “that was amazing, now how fast do you think you can go,” on the last word Rainbow Dash shot off going what she believed to be a taxing pace for a new flier. After a few seconds Applejack shot past Rainbow Dash with little effort at all. Stunned for a second, Rainbow Dash got an excited look on her face, “oh it's on!”
They began picking up speed staying neck and neck. After going for a minute, both of the racers having been slowly picking up speed to slightly out match the others speed, Applejack seemed to have reached her limit, “Dash ah can't go any faster than this,” Applejack called ahead to Rainbow Dash sounding disappointed in herself.
Rainbow Dash spotted a small clearing near the outskirts of Ponyville and touched down there. A few seconds later Applejack came crashing to the ground sending dust flying everywhere, Rainbow Dash seeing the impact, came running towards the crash site, “AJ are you OK,” she asked worriedly.
Applejack stood up looking barely fazed by what should have been a near fatal crash. “Rainbow ain't you figured out by now that stuff don't hurt me like it does normal ponies any more?”
Rainbow Dash looked stunned at Applejack for a second then began laughing slightly, “I guess I really should have by now huh?”
“Any way, why can't I go that fast Dash, I was really pushing myself there at the end.”
Remembering the unbelievable speed that she had just been going to out pace Applejack, Rainbow Dash snapped back to reality, “what are you talking about,” she asked almost angrily, but pride disallowed her from being vehement, “you were going way faster then ninety percent of ponies I know. I had to push a little to keep up, I had know idea you would be that fast right off the bat like that.”
Applejack looked skeptical for a moment, and then began to remember on all the other things she had done as if they were something she had done her whole life, “musta been that lesson you gave me bout how to reduce drag.”
Rainbow Dash smiled, “maybe I should stop showing you my secrets before you get to be as fast as I am.”
The next day, after Rainbow Dash had told Twilight about all of the previous day's events, Twilight came to talk to Applejack, “Applejack, Rainbow told me you've been doing amazingly on your flight training.”
“You could say I've been doin well,” Applejack said, mustering as much humbleness as her excitement and pride over her recent accomplishments would allow.
“Well I've been reading up on the aerodynamics of Pegasus flight, and the theory behind flight, and I came up with a few ideas.”
“Ideas,” Applejack asked cautiously and skeptically.
“Yes, you see the number one thing that keeps anyone from moving at higher velocities is the friction exerted on them by the air.”
“OK,” Applejack said, knowing that eventually Twilight would explain what she was saying in a way she could understand.
“So I was thinking that you could use your magic to reduce your own friction, or theoretically eliminate it.”
Up to this point Rainbow Dash had been sitting listening to the conversation, but something in Twilight's statement got her attention, “now hold on a minute, if she gets rid of her friction, then her wings won't have enough lift, she'd lose at least half of her wings ability to move herself in the first place.”
Twilight stopped to consider what Rainbow Dash was saying, “what if she did it while she was mid-flight, that way she could glide on the air currents, and enjoy the reduced friction.”
“That's great and all, but why the hay would that matter, it doesn't really get her any faster, and wasn't that the point?”
Twilight was looking irritated that her theory had been so easily picked apart, “well... she could use it to get more distance without getting tired!”
Rainbow Dash didn't let up, “have you seen her lately? She has more endurance than anyone I have ever seen, she doesn't need to reduce her energy usage.”
“What if she's going on a really long flight?”
“Like what around the world?”
Applejack had been thinking about all that Rainbow Dash had talked to her about, and the proposal that Twilight was putting forward, and came up with an idea, “well why don't ah just push the air around me, that way ah won't get drag, and can get the lift off it?”
Rainbow Dash's eyes lit up, “yeah it would be like you were drafting all the time, that could work.”
Twilight still not to happy about her idea being shot down so quickly merely mumbled, “yeah I suppose that could work.”
All three went outside to test the new theory. Applejack readied herself, and shot off. After flying for thirty feet, she began to cast the spell she had been working on in her head since Twilight had started arguing with Rainbow Dash. She could feel herself beginning to move quicker, when suddenly Rainbow Dash flew next to her.
“Just how fast do you think you can push that,” Rainbow Dash asked, and shot forward.
Applejack's eyes narrowed and she began to pick up tremendous speed. She caught up with Rainbow Dash in a matter of seconds, but seeing Applejack gaining on her, Rainbow Dash started to accelerate at a faster pace. In a little less than ten seconds they both did a sonic rainboom, Applejack's colors being more heavily favoring orange and yellow. Stunned at having performed the sonic rainboom, they both stopped and hovered for a moment starring at one another.
“That was... fun,” Applejack said putting a little emphasis and sounding happy on the word 'fun.'
Rainbow Dash looked a little worried, “OK Applejack, we need to talk.”
They both made there way back to Sweet Apple Acres, a considerable deal more slowly than they had left it and when they touched down Rainbow Dash began speaking in a very stern tone.
“OK listen AJ, this is important. You are to NEVER fly that fast again.”
Twilight and Applejack both looked at Rainbow Dash with a dumbfounded look. Applejack then asked slowly and unsure of herself, “but Rainbow why?”
Still looking extremely serious Rainbow Dash said, “the sonic rainboom may appear beautiful, but you have no idea what mayhem it will cause, it does some weird and unexpected things, and anything too close to the actual boom will get flattened. If we weren't flying so high someone would have gotten hurt.”
Twilight remembered how much her magic had freaked out when the first sonic rainboom Rainbow Dash ever performed went passed her, “yea I remember when I was a filly, the rainboom caused me to go into some sort of magic overload.”
Applejack still looked confused, “but you did one at Twi's brother's wedding, why didn't anything freaky happen there?”
“Me and Celestia made sure I was high enough that any immediate effects wouldn't be a serious problem, and that guards all over Equestria were on alert that one was going to be performed.”
Applejack starred at Rainbow Dash for a long time, “alright Rainbow, I see your point,” she said heavyhearted.
Lightening up dramatically Rainbow Dash attempted to curve the mood, “don't worry AJ, you can do one at special events and such, you may end up needing to do one in an emergency, heck next time I'm asked to do one, I may ask you to help, that double sonic rainboom was so awesome!”
Applejack lightened up as well, “sounds like fun.”
Twilight looked a little concerned, “I think I better write a letter to Celestia, I'm sure she will want to know about this.”
Rainbow Dash looked at Twilight skeptically, “Twilight are you serious? Celestia can't miss the world's first double sonic rainboom, everyone in Equestria is going to see, or feel, that thing.”
“I know that, but I think she needs to be told that Applejack and you are the ones responsible, and how AJ actually did it, you know with the air manipulation and your flight training.”
Applejack seemed to get nervous when Twilight said 'responsible,' “Twilight you don't think this'll put me on the princess' bad side do ya?”
Twilight being previously unaware of the way she made her soon to be letter sound, realized how nervous she had made Applejack, “Applejack don't be silly, I just thought Celestia would want to know how your progressing, both magically and in you flying.”
Rainbow Dash smiled, “well I'd say you definitely shown you've got talent AJ.”
Applejack was still not very confident that Celestia would not look at the rainboom as a problem, but sounding relieved by her friends' words nonetheless, “I s'pose she wouldn't be too angry, this being an accident and all.”
Rainbow Dash looked at her, “just try and keep your speed a little slower from now on K?”
“OK,” Applejack said, and they all shared a good laugh.