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Since the beginning of Pokemon itself, Flying has always been one of the most desired typings in the game. While it suffers from unappealing weaknesses to Ice, Electric, and Rock-type attacks (some of the most powerful and widely dispersed), it holds an immunity to the #1 most used attack in the game, Earthquake. Due to Earthquake's incredible Base Power, excellent type coverage, and near unparalleled distribution (it seems like anything with a bit of girth learns this move), Flying-type Pokemon are almost a necessity on any team. Even with the advent of Stealth Rock which hits Flying-type Pokemon for 25% (sometimes more depending on sub-type) upon switching in, Flying's useful resistances and unique offensive type coverage make it one of the most common types in competitive Pokemon.
While the number of Pokemon that utilize Flying-type moves offensively is rather limited (The only three OU Pokemon that regularly use Flying-type attacks are Skarmory, Togekiss, and Gyarados; only Gyarados is really noted for its offensive prowess.), the resistances granted by Flying as a sub-type allow a number of OU Pokemon to reliable switch-in on a large variety of opponents. Mixed Salamence uses its Earthquake immunity, Fighting resistance, and Intimidate ability to come in for (relatively) free and fire off ridiculously powerful Draco Meteors and Outrages. Gyarados uses these same free chances to switch in to Dragon Dance and set up sweeps for itself. While not the fastest or best sweeper, Togekiss is notable for its Serene Grace ability paired with Air Slash STAB, making it a fearsome hax sweeper when paired with Thunder Wave. Zapdos is more commonly used as a defensive Pokemon, but it poses a real offensive threat due to its unique typing and base 125 Special Attack, base 100 Speed, and exceptional type coverage. These Flying-type sweepers are the sole reason why people aren’t throwing around more choiced Ground and Fighting-type attacks.
Here is where the Flying-type really shines. The Flying-type gets some excellent resistances, including ones to Grass, Bug, Fighting, and that delicious immunity to Ground-type attacks. Skarmory takes full advantage of its Steel / Flying typing to gain the upper hand on Pokemon like Scizor, Flygon, and other Physical Pokemon who fail to land super effective hit on it. It can then take the time to lay down a layer of Spikes, which is incredibly beneficial to both stall and balance teams alike. Gliscor uses its unique typing to maintain both the Fighting resistance and keep a neutrality to Rock-type attacks that generally accompany Fighting-type attacks. Lastly, Zapdos makes an incredible check to many top offensive threats, not so much due to its ability to repeatedly take hits from these Pokemon, but due to its ability to take a single hit and OHKO with its powerful special attacks in return. The real pièce de résistance of using a defensive Flying-type Pokemon is their access to the move Roost. This 50% recovery move not only heals the user, but also gets rid of some of the nastier weaknesses associated with the Flying-type. With this move in their arsenal, defensive Flying-type Pokemon can be expected to stick around for a long while in a battle.
While the number of Flying-type Pokemon is significantly less in UU compared to OU, there are still plenty of potent sweepers. Moltres, for one, has an excellent base 125 Special Attack and 90 Speed that very few Pokemon in UU can hope to match. With its ability to fire off STAB Air Slashes, you can more often than not take down Moltres’s counters with eventual flinches. Honchkrow is one of the few Pokemon with access to the move Drill Peck. With its base 125 Attack, it can power through even the toughest foes, especially with its ability, Super Luck, which laughs at opponents who try and use walls that are 3HKOd to stop a Honchkrow sweep. Yanmega is in the same boat as Moltres in that it generally can muscle through any opposing wall; however, it generally relies on Bug Buzz to do so. The thing that Yanmega loves about its Flying-type is its 4x resistance to the move Mach Punch which greatly lowers the chance of a priority based revenge kill. Lastly, Swellow, one of the fastest Pokemon in the tier, can present almost an “instant loss” to anyone lacking a Steel or Rock-type Pokemon on their team due to Guts, STAB Facade, and STAB Brave Bird.
Flying is a far worse defensive typing in UU, mainly due to the lack of defensive Flying-types who aren’t 4x weak to Stealth Rock. In OU, most defensive Flying-type Pokemon can get away with being 2x weak due to Roost, but when it takes an entire Roost just to break even in terms of health, the prospect of using a Flying-type Pokemon defensively in UU becomes less attractive. There are a couple defensive Flying-type Pokemon worth using in UU, however. Altaria, for one, enjoys its Flying sub-type for its ability to consistently take on one of the most potent stall breakers, Blaziken. It can then take advantage of forced switches to provide a bit of Heal Bell support for a stall team. Articuno and Moltres may be 4x weak to Stealth Rock, but both can be incredibly effective defensively solely based on their base defensive stats, which are incredibly beefy compared to the rest of the UU tier. Once again, all of these Pokemon greatly benefit from the addition of Roost to their movesets.
Brave Bird - 120 Base Power - 100% Accuracy - Deals 33% recoil
The most powerful of all Flying-type attacks. This is the bread and butter of most Flying-type sweepers' movesets due to the bad distribution of the other physical Flying-type attacks.
Drill Peck - 80 Base Power - 100% Accuracy
This is the no-downside Flying attack; however, it suffers from horrid distribution. Only seven Pokemon in the entire game learn the move and only 3 ever use it on a competitive moveset.
Bounce - 85 Base Power - 85% Accuracy - 30% Chance to paralyze
Only one Pokemon actually ever uses this move, but Gyarados is such a potent threat that this move is notable nonetheless. Its main use is to hit Celebi, but it also has niche use on Leftovers Gyarados to gain extra Leftovers recovery (assuming there is no sandstorm brewing).
Aerial Ace - 60 Base Power - Never misses
If you’re being hit by a Flying-type move, chances are it’s not this one. This move will only be seen on Scyther due to Technician boosting Aerial Ace's power to 90 before STAB. Unfortunately, it suffers from horrible Base Power (it doesn’t even out damage Earthquake, even with STAB), and its secondary effect is negligible considering evasion increasing moves are banned. It does have the benefit of being extremely well distributed. A ton of things get this move.
Air Slash - 75 Base Power - 95% Accuracy - 30% chance to flinch opponent
This is it. Beyond Aeroblast and Hidden Power Flying, this is the only usable special Flying-type attack in the game. Luckily, it’s a pretty good one. Air Slash has decent Base Power, reliable accuracy, and an excellent secondary effect. It’s no wonder why most Pokemon who have access to this move use it.
Roost - Recovers 50% of the user’s HP and removes the user’s Flying-type
Hell yes, this is hands down one of the best moves in the game, not to mention it has ridiculously good distribution (nearly every single Flying-type Pokemon learns Roost). Both offensive and defensive Pokemon alike can utilize this to great effect. If it has Roost, you should use it.
Flying is both a potent attacking and defending type. With its unique resistances and immunity, it is sure to be a staple type on a majority of teams for a long time.
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