It is often assumed that the ultimate goal of a motion-detection system is to faithfully represent the time-dependent velocity of a moving stimulus. This assumption, however, may be an arbitrary standard since the requirements for a motion-detection system depend on the task that is to be solved. In the context of optomotor course stabilization, the performance of a motion-sensitive neuron in the fly's optomotor pathway and of a hypothetical velocity sensor are compared for stimuli as are characteristic of a normal behavioral situation in which the actions and reactions of the animal directly affect its visual input. On average, tethered flies flying in a flight simulator are able to compensate to a large extent the retinal image displacements as are induced by an external disturbance of their flight course. The retinal image motion experienced by the fly under these behavioral closed-loop conditions was replayed in subsequent electrophysiological experiments to the animal while the activity of an identified neuron in the motion pathway was recorded. The velocity fluctuations as well as the corresponding neuronal signals were analyzed with a statistical approach taken from signal-detection theory. An observer scrutinizing either signal performs almost equally well in detecting the external disturbance.