How did David Copperfield fly

There stands an illusionist in front of us and playfully works his miracles. With our mouths open, we see how objects emerge from nowhere, how they transform. You already know: that cannot be what was just being demonstrated. That must not be! But the viewer knows no explanation for how the artist succeeds in abolishing the laws of nature. Magic lives from mystery.


David Copperfield
"The dream of flying"

This is what David Copperfield calls his magical show of flying. And who doesn't have it, the dream of flying, as free as a bird! But humans don't have wings and have to use technical devices to get into the air, including the world's greatest magician David Copperfield! (hereinafter abbreviated to DC)
And so David flies ...
... DC, dressed loosely in blue jeans and a size XXL sweatshirt, tells of his childhood dream "Flying".
DC: "As a child I always had the feeling that I didn't belong. I was an only child. Lived in a house where there were no children my age. So I sat dear, alone, and dreamed in order not to feel so lonely . "
The room has become quiet, the lights go out, except for a soft spot on DC.
"Have you ever flown in your dreams? Even today, when I feel lonely or insecure, I return to that dream."
Many people have dreams like this, but they don't try to make them come true. I've been trying to fly for a long time. I think if I stop trying again and again, I'll lose. "
A screen is lowered from the stage ceiling and the master gets up from his seat.
"Today I'll try again. But first I'll show you a few more people who share this dream with me and have never given up. It's a little weird and a little sad, but they all did their best."
The magician disappears into the darkness of the backdrop and a film can be seen on the screen. Old, flickering black and white photos of the first attempts at flight by intrepid aerial pioneers ...
The stage is in view again. Blue-black glittering background with fake clouds attached to feet and wafts of mist on the ground ...
In the center front sits DC, on his left hand he wears a large leather glove with a magnificent, real falcon sitting on it. Suddenly he flies away.
DC looks longingly after him, takes off the glove and lies down on his back on the floor.
Dreamily he nestles his arms in his soft black sweatshirt, then slowly pulls him up and synchronously - with a kind of flapping of his wings - the magician lifts off the ground. About two or three meters. He pauses briefly before moving higher and higher with further arm movements.
The dream has come true !!
In his demonstration he flies into a plexiglass box surrounded by spectators, on which a lid is closed when David lowers into the box. There he floats free.
It also flies through rotating rings held by assistants.
At the end he takes a spectator in his arms and on his flight through the room. "Bambi" is the name of the lady.
At the end he takes off one last time, with his arm outstretched. The falcon comes back and lands on his hand in flight. Together they both float behind the scenes and the curtain closes.
Whowww, great and gigantic, accompanied by fabulous music.
Even if it looks like this in this fabulous, perfectly successful illusion - there is no floating trick without ropes, wires, cords, threads, rods or beams.
The magician flying here is wired in an ingenious way. With the wires, however, it's not that easy:
The magician needs the necessary freedom of movement and must not get tangled up under any circumstances. And the more natural-looking movements that can be performed and the greater the range of motion, the more realistic it looks. Then there is also the fact that the wires should be absolutely invisible.
This flight number uses a device similar to that used by circus performers when practicing daring somersaults on the back of a galloping horse. The acrobat wears a corset for his own safety. Two thin ropes are attached to the left and right of this corset and hung in the big top. If the artist misses his horse in the somersault, the fall is caught by the ropes and he can be gently lowered to the ground.
The corset consists partly of metal and tear-resistant nylon fabric. The wires are attached to metal eyelets on the side. The position of the eyelets is such that the center of gravity can be easily balanced when lying down.
The wires used in the floating illusion are so thin that they can no longer be seen from a few meters away in the right light. Piano strings are preferably used here. They are extremely resilient and extremely thin at the same time. A piano string with a diameter of 0.65 mm can be loaded with up to 81.2 kg. A steel cable with a thickness of 0.725 mm can carry up to 101 kg.
To make these wires "invisible" there are various methods that are often used in combination. To avoid unwanted light reflections, the wire surface is oxidized. The resulting matt gray coating removes the telltale sheen from the steel strings.
The stage lighting and the stage background play a particularly important role.
The background is made of slightly reflective material that is set in gentle waves by a fan. With this optical trick, our eyes are deprived of any chance of being able to perceive even the slightest trace of the wires. Even light reflections that may occur on the wires are swallowed up by this background.
Now it is also clear why DC wears a loose, black sweatshirt. The corset is hidden underneath. Why is it black, of all things: The sweatshirt has small slits in the area of ​​the eyelets underneath, through which the wires are fed. In this way he can click in and out in seconds without having to take off the corset.

That's the whole magical secret.
But the rotating rings and the glass cage.
Yes, at first glance it really looks like the rings are spinning ABOVE the magician - but it's an optical illusion of the senses (good to see when watching a video of the show in slow motion!).
Two rings of different sizes, which do not rotate in opposite directions all the time, are guided simultaneously by two assistants. The smaller ring is turned "backwards" by the larger one at the precise moment when the assistants are at the level of the magician.
Another pair of rings, attached to two opposite vertices, is also moved over the magician. The trick here is that the ring construction is not rotated in the direction of the two assistants, but in opposite directions. In this way the magician, who is hanging on the wires, is "undermined", and it still gives the impression that the body has been guided through the rings.
Then we have the plexiglass box.
The secret here lies in the dimensions of the box as well as in the glass lid.
The box is not much deeper than the magician is wide. What does it mean and why is it so?
Well, the two wires run parallel to the left and right of the magician and vertically upwards. The lid of the box is designed so that it only rests on the narrow sides of the box. There is a narrow gap on the long edges at the front and back, through which the wires are given the necessary space to run upwards unhindered. The distance between the wires determines the depth of the box so that the slots are not larger than is absolutely necessary.
The steel cables are also the reason why the lid is pushed upright onto the box before it is flipped over. The assistant who goes over the glass lid cannot get tangled in the steel wires because the magician follows her step.
Yes, even at the end, when "Bambi" is taken on the flight, the young lady is secured (that means inevitably she is an initiated assistant, which DC has also admitted).
In addition to the corset and ropes, this fantastic floating illusion naturally requires an elaborate crane construction in the roof of the hall, which enables movement in all three dimensions.
A real technical masterpiece as you can see!
Okay now, since you've been privy to it. But now stay fair if you visit or see such a magic show. Enjoy the demonstration because, in addition to the technical effort, it always takes a lot of training, practice and skill to demonstrate such tricks.

I myself now know a lot of his magic tricks and anyway, or perhaps because of that, I was enthusiastic about his current show, which I saw from him in autumn 2005 in the Mannheim SAP Arena. Even if some tricks are known or can be partially seen through, the artistic implementation and show is the eternally fascinating thing - no “black magician” changes anything about that.

It's like a good music concert or a good movie, you want to watch it again. And if you know the special effects of Star Wars, you will still be able to enjoy the film and its illusion afterwards.


If you want to be even more "enchanted": Robert Rau "Copperfield & Co. - The best tricks of the great magicians - To be amazed and re-enchanted"; Knaur-Verlag # 1690 / ISBN 3-426-77301-5

(This article contains excerpts from the book presented, as well as from the foreword by ZAUBERKUNST, Werner Waldmann, Hugendubel Verlag)


Copperfield & Co. book on Amazon / David Copperfield´s official website / German Copperfield Homepage

Magic tricks unraveled: David's tricks Here you can take a look behind the scenes: David Copperfield in Germany