"Taking Flight" is the ninth episode of season two and the twenty-second episode overall of the animated children's series The Magic School Bus. It originally aired on December 3rd, 1995.
Wanda and Tim have built a model airplane together ("based on Wanda's dream and idea") for a model air show. Ms. Frizzle has arrived via glider and decides to shrink the class, who discuss wings and thin air, so they can go flying in it. Tim, Phoebe, and Liz stay on the ground to operate the remote control and the plane takes off in the air. Phoebe gets a hold of the remote control and pushes the right lever down, causing the plane to tilt up. Dorothy Ann reads in her book that when the plane's nose tip up and slims down, it is known as a stall. Phoebe pulls the plane up just in time to keep it from crashing. Unfortunately, Tim trips over a pair of binoculars, which causes him to drop the remote control and it gets smashed to the ground as the plane continues flying uncontrollably.
Tim, Phoebe and Liz enter The Magic School Bus and Liz transforms it into a plane. Unfortunately, there is no air moving past the wings. So it can't fly. Meanwhile, Wanda is left steering the plane, which suddenly drops due to Ralphie impetuously turning a lever attached to the side down, which causes the wings to unlock. The rest of the class put the wings back together and Ralphie locks them up again as the plane regains altitude. The class learn that moving thin air is what's holding up the wings.
Meanwhile, Tim, Phoebe, and Liz try to turn The Magic School Bus into various different airplanes and transforms it with ten wings. But since it is too heavy, the air wouldn't hold it up. The class in the model airplane continue to fly through the air and the propeller stops turning (because it's an RC plane, it runs on batteries). Dorothy reads in her book that the propeller keeps the plane moving forward, which slows the plane down as it eventually crashes into a tree.
Meanwhile, The Magic School Bus transforms into a biplane and it finally gains enough altitude to fly in the air. When The Magic School Biplane is about to crash to city hall, Liz transforms it into an airplane and it flies higher to the sky. The class in the model plane are now stuck onto a tree. The class learns that air moving across the wings is what made the model plane fly before and that the moving air causes its lift. When a bald eagle lands on top of the tree branch, Wanda suggests that the class should use the eagle to tell them to fly back up in the air. Arnold states that birds flap their wings in order to stay in the air and Ms. Frizzle gives the class an idea to pedal to make the propeller turn.
While Tim and Phoebe continue to drive The Magic School Aeroplane, the class use the eagle to get them back in air by tying one end of a rope to the plane and the other end on the eagle's talons as it flies in the air. The class pedal until the propeller finally spins as Arnold unties the rope, only to end up flying along with the eagle.
As Arnold continues to hang onto the rope, eventually saying "I knew I should have stayed home today!", he climbs on top of the eagle and takes a ride. He notices its tail moving back in forth through the wind and uses it to steer to the flying model airplane. Wanda grabs the rope and Arnold slides down and onto the airplane as the eagle flies away. The class continues to pedal, only for the plane to go out of control. So Arnold reluctantly steers the plane and the plane ends up in the model air show, as well as The Magic School Aeroplane. Liz transforms The Magic School Aeroplane into a bigger plane and the class lands onto The Magic School Plane.
Later, at the air show, Wanda explains the physics of flight (in rhyme) and she and Tim win the trophy, which they share with the rest of the class. Ms. Frizzle then concludes, "Sometimes, you have to do the wrong stuff to find out what the right stuff really is" as Liz is seen taking a ride on the model airplane.
- A technicolor version of Wanda's plane is shown in a split-second shot at the beginning.
- This is the first time Tim accidentally breaks something, the second is in Sees Stars.
- In the producer's says segment, the Wright Brothers are mentioned as were their plane prototypes. Tim also mentions pilot Charles Lindbergh in this episode.
- Arnold riding on an eagle could be a reference to how his nickname, "Arn", is the Old High German word for eagle.
- This is one of the many episodes that have evidence that The Magic School Bus may be sentient.
- Going by production order, this is the 8th episode of Season 2.
- The Warner Home Video VHS and DVD releases do not have the closing funding credits or book promo. The Cinedigm releases use the same version of the episode as the Warner VHS/DVD because of this.
- Many of the planes the bus transforms into are based on real-life planes. These include the Caproni CA60, the Wright Flyer, The Spirit of St.Louis and the Spruce Goose.