In Minecraft you can ride on Mobs, sail over the Seas on Boats, ride a Minecart, and so much more. However, the one thing that is missing is having a device to fly with through the skies.
Sure there are Elytras, but being an endgame Item makes them hard to come by. Not to mention maintaining them and continuously crafting the Fireworks to use the Elytra efficiently uses up a lot of resources.
So what else could we use to fly through the skies?
If you thought Redstone contraptions, then you would be correct. You can use Redstone to build flying machines that will fly high up all by themselves.
How to Use Redstone and Pistons
To make anything move in Minecraft you need Redstone to power it. Redstone works similarly to real life electricity and wiring. It has rules that it follows and that are relatively simple to work with.
The Minecraft Redstone community is pretty large and they make many contraptions to make gameplay easier or faster.
There’s countless blueprints for elaborate builds online, from different kinds of automatic Doors to moving machines like the ones we’ll cover here.
Redstone Dust, which is the basic form you can mine it in when in Caves, acts like wires in game. It can be placed down on any solid block and as long as it’s connected it will carry power from a nearby power source.
Redstone Dust itself isn’t a power source, but it carries the power from other blocks.
Power source blocks emit power, called a Redstone Pulse, that travels through Redstone Dust permanently or periodically when activated by specific things (such as players or Mobs).
Blocks that can be used as a power source are:
- Block of Redstone
- Daylight Censor
- Detector Rail
- Lightning Rod
- Redstone Torch
All power source blocks can be connected to each other via Redstone Dust and activated the same. When a power from source blocks reaches a block such as Doors or Pistons it will activate it. A Door or Trap Door will open, and Pistons will open up.
For our machine Pistons and Sticky Pistons will be the key components.
A Piston is an activatable block which opens up when activated by a Redstone Pulse. It can push a block, player, or Mob forward, above, or below it.
The Sticky Piston is a variant of the Piston which makes the block it pushes stick to it, rather than just pushing it a block.
Blocks which hold entities, such as Lectors which hold Books or Beehives which house Bees cannot be moved by a Piston. Other blocks can be destroyed by a Piston and turned into drops, such as Signs and most nature blocks.
Redstone Power Range
The power that is emitted from power source blocks doesn’t go on indefinitely. A single Redstone Block or Torch cannot power a large or widespread contraption.
With most source blocks, the Redstone Pulse spreads for about 15 blocks of Redstone Dust. Similarly to the way Light levels work, with each block the Pulse loses 1 power.
In the image below I show the range of the Redstone Pulse from a Redstone Block and Redstone Torch. A very slight change in the color brightness can be seen as the power reaches the end of its range.
Certain blocks cannot be activated if the power level of the Redstone circuit is too low. Because of this there are certain Redstone components that help extend the range of the Redstone as well as keep it from losing its power.
Redstone Repeaters are often used to keep the power of Redstone going. They can also be used to fix the direction of where Redstone travels or even delay the pulse.
Crafting Sticky Pistons and Redstone Blocks
For most Redstone components you will need Redstone Dust to craft them, including Pistons. Redstone Ore can be found at Y levels between -63 and 15 inside caves. They can be mined with a regular Iron Pickaxe or a stronger version.
To craft a Sticky Piston you first need to craft a regular Piston, using the recipe below.
Once you have a regular Piston all you will need is to use it in a recipe with a Slimeball as shown in the picture below and you will have a Sticky Piston.
A Redstone Block is made with 9 Redstone Dust placed in a Crafting Table. It acts as a permanent power source, just like a Redstone Torch. Finally, we will need an Observer.
Building a Flying Machine in Java Edition
With all the Redstone components made the last thing we will need are either Slime Blocks or Honey Blocks. I personally find it easier to make Honey Blocks because harvesting Bees is easier than fighting Slimes.
Now, we can get working on our flying machine.
Before you start it you will need to climb up to a high place or build your way up, because once the machine is activated it’ll keep going until it hits terrain.
Build it too low and it’ll reach terrain rather quickly. This may be good if you don’t wish to lose it, but otherwise start somewhere high up.
For the simplest flying machine engine we will need 2 regular Pistons and 1 Sticky Piston, two Redstone Blocks, and two Slime or Honey Blocks.
The Slime Blocks will be the ones on top of which we place our power source, aka the Redstone Blocks. They will keep it in place and carry it along as our Pistons move the machine forward, that way we don’t need any Redstone circuits.
Start off by placing your Pistons first. Having a built platform to work on helps here.
Two Pistons with their ‘backs’ turned to each other and then another Piston across from each of them. Place a your Slime or Honey block in between the opposite facing Pistons and another on the lone Piston at the end.
Then place your Redstone Blocks on top of the Slime blocks. The engine will not activate immediately.
I have found that simply placing a block to the sides of the engine, or even adding an external power source near it will activate it. Once it starts moving it’ll be doing so entirely on its own.
To make sure your machine doesn’t disappear in the far distance and gets lost forever, you can use blocks to make so-called stopping or landing points for the machine. Once the machine reaches them it’ll stop moving.
It is a great transport alternative to long Railway systems or Boats!
If you understand Redstone to a higher degree you can, of course, greatly expand on this. It may take a lot more resources and work, but people have been able to build anything from large flying machines to even flying bombers utilizing Redstone.
Building a Flying Machine in Bedrock Edition
In Bedrock Edition certain Redstone mechanics work a little bit different, so to build a flying machine in Bedrock a different approach is needed.
This is where the Observer we have mentioned how to craft comes in play.
Again, we are building a simple engine, using a couple of Slime blocks, Pistons, a Power Block, and an Observer.
This is the general placement you will use for the blocks. The Sticky Piston is placed with the double Slime Blocks. To activate it all you will need is a Redstone pulse or Flint and Steel.
Additionally there is also a narrower, but longer, design that doesn’t use Redstone Blocks to move. This design may be a bit more in handy because if you have a stopping point at the end of your route it’s easier to fit it.