Imagine a pregnant woman gave birth to a baby mid-air? Does the baby belong to the sky? It is a complicated question that confounds the most geographically and legally astute: what is the nationality of a baby born on an airplane? Assuming that the pregnant mother is even allowed on the plane in the first place, this question is quite a tricky one. There have been many attempts over the years to solve the issue but the confusion still remains.

Let us think about it this way. If an Indian mother boards a British Airways plane in Heathrow Airport in London, which is heading towards New Delhi. Midway between the flight, if the baby gets out of mother’s womb over the sea, which nation does the baby belong to in this situation? What nationality does the baby hold? The baby belongs to India or Italy or Spain or England or even to any two countries among the four?

The problem, however, is determining how high that airspace is because each country has their own definition. Some say 43 miles up, some say 99.

This same question of nationality could also apply to babies born on ships traveling in international waters. Technically, no one owns the seas. A person is essentially everywhere in the world and at the same time, nowhere on Earth when he/she is traveling on the ocean or in the air.

This started long back, enshrined in English common law, this phrase means, “Whoever owns the soil, it is theirs all the way up to heaven and down to hell.” Thankfully, this has been modified over the years to mean that each country owns the airspace necessary for the “use and enjoyment” of their plot of land.