The phrase “moving at the speed of flight” can be interpreted literally to mean moving at the speed at which an aircraft flies. However, it can also be seen as a poetic way to describe the experience of flying, which is quite different from other modes of transportation due to the high speeds involved.
When we are aboard a plane, it might feel like we are not moving fast, especially when we look out of the window and see the ground slowly passing by. This is because we are so high up in the sky that we don’t have a close reference point to give us a sense of speed. It’s a bit like when you are in a car and you try to estimate your speed by looking at objects on the horizon; it’s not easy to do because the objects are too far away.
In a discussion on Physics Stack Exchange, users explained that when you are in a plane, your brain doesn’t receive the usual clues it uses to judge speed, such as nearby objects whizzing past, which can make it feel like you are moving slowly. One user noted that we are more likely to feel the speed when we are closer to other objects, such as when another aircraft is flying below us in the opposite direction, or when we are about to land and can see the ground approaching.
Another interesting point brought up in the discussion is that we don’t actually feel speed; we feel acceleration and other forces, like wind on our face. Since a plane usually flies at a steady speed for most of the journey, we don’t feel much sensation of speed. The plane’s design also minimizes the sensation of motion to avoid passenger discomfort.
So, when someone says they are “moving at the speed of flight,” they might be referring to the high, steady speed of an aircraft, which can sometimes feel surprisingly slow due to the lack of reference points and the smooth, steady motion of the flight. It’s a phrase that captures the unique and somewhat counterintuitive experience of flying.