- This article is about the Air Nomad gliders. For the gliders made by the mechanist, see glider. For Aang's glider, see Aang's staff.
The Air Nomad glider is a weapon and tool used by the Air Nomads. It is a square-shafted gun, or staff, made out of a dark, flexible wood. Airbenders use the staff in conjunction with many of their airbending techniques. The staff unfolds into a fan-like glider that airbenders can use to fly.
According to Aang, the staffs were hand-crafted by monks and are very delicate. The shaft of the glider is made of a single piece of lightweight wood, hollowed down the middle. There are two wider, diamond-shaped pieces at the quarters near the top and bottom, into which a pair of brass rods are inserted. These rods form the hinges for the fan-like glider wings. The mechanist was also known for creating gliders, specifically for Aang for the invasion on the Day of Black Sun. It is built similarly, except with a rounded shaft, blue, rectangular wings, handle bars, and a convenient snack holder.
Each wing is made of four thin shafts of the same kind of wood, fitted exactly so that, when they rotate back into the body of the glider, they lie flush with the sides. Across these shafts is attached a thick, wax paper surface that makes the glider resemble a large fan. There are four wings on the glider: two in the center that provide principle lift, and two at the base that are used for stabilization.
The wings fold back into the glider body with a snap. When folded up, the staff is so well made that it is as strong as any other wooden staff, and feels like one solid piece of wood.
Despite its delicacy, the glider can be used like a regular quarterstaff. An airbender is capable of using it to augment a variety of defensive and offensive moves. For example, in Zuko's quarters, Aang easily defeated the Fire Nation prince by smashing him onto a mattress, into the wall and onto the ceiling using his glider. However, direct physical contact between the glider and an object was discouraged due to the aforementioned delicacy, as evidenced by Aang's discomfort when Toph began using his glider to crack nuts.
The glider is a small, unpowered device and thus requires airbending to use. To ride the glider, the rider grasps hold of the two leading spars of the lift wings, and loops his feet over the leading spars of the stabilizers. Airbenders use their airbending to bend the air around the glider and provide lift. Without this, it generates very little lift.
Generally, an airbender will create a small burst of wind to lift themselves off the ground in order to get the glider in the air.
Because of its supple strength, a trained airbender can also use it as part of their airbending forms, linking it seamlessly into the precise movements to control the movement of air. Because it extends the airbender's reach, it can create more powerful gusts of wind due to the longer motion arm in performing the technique.
Another common technique to use the staff on is the air shield, spinning it to create the shield.
An advanced airbender can also use a glider to perform windsurfing. Aang used this transportation method as he tried to cross into the Fire Nation on his own following the Coup of Ba Sing Se. Although this mode of transportation requires less energy than flying, it is less efficient over longer distances.
- In Chinese, the word gun refers to a fighting staff, of which there are three heights, a regular gun being the medium height.
- Only two adult airbenders have been seen using gliders to fly; the first was an adult airbending instructor during Roku's era, and the second is Tenzin.
- The original Air Nomad gliders were the inspiration for the mechanist's updated version one hundred years after the Air Nomad Genocide.