Can my heraldic dragons fly?

Is the question ready for reopening? If no, why?

  • $\begingroup$ This question was closed as unclear. Despite any edits you have done, I'm still not exactly sure 100% what you are asking.I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but even so, until the majority of people can discern the question, it still isn't ready for reopening. Personally, I would restructure the question entirely to be more clear. $\endgroup$
    – MarielS
    Apr 24, 2019 at 22:03
  • $\begingroup$ Revision 7 looks reasonably clear to me: basically, does doubling the wing area double the liftable mass? Hint: you should be able to find the answer by applying the aerodynamic lift equation. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Apr 25, 2019 at 7:21
  • $\begingroup$ @aCVn > Applying the lift equation for flapping flight. I'm disappointed. $\endgroup$ Apr 25, 2019 at 7:36
  • $\begingroup$ Flapping just changes the coefficient of lift. All the other factors remain the same. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Apr 25, 2019 at 8:07
  • $\begingroup$ @aCVn No, the two are entirely different, a bird isn't a fixed-wing plane. $\endgroup$ Apr 25, 2019 at 9:37
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ When a bird isn't flapping, but is instead gliding, it's a fixed-wing plane. The equations @aCVn pointed to are a great way to test the basic viability of a flying design (creature or machine). $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Apr 25, 2019 at 20:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Adding to what @JBH wrote above, when considering a sufficiently short duration, a flapping wing is stationary. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Apr 26, 2019 at 11:10

1 Answer 1


Edit: After substantial edits, Mephistopheles has, in my opinion, created an excellent question, which I now recommend be reopened.

@aCVn isn't wrong. The lift equation is useful for solving your problem even if it isn't "perfect." Creative-use-of-science-is-us. Believe me, you are not going to find a scientific justification for dragons, especially with custom muscle alignments. If memory serves, bumble bees fail the mathematics of flapping flight, and yet they fly just fine. And, finally, I'd like to point out that most birds can glide — meaning the fixed-wing lift equations work perfectly. Unless you believe your dragons need to fly like hummingbirds....

questions are meant to be "you provide us your solution and we'll tell you if the solution works in the context of your world." Since you've provided no other context, no, it won't work in the real world because dragons don't exist. You appear to have made assumptions, which leaves us making assumptions, which makes your question unclear. And this is a big part of the problem with this question. Per the Help Center, questions must be specific and answerable (check! kinda), must include context (missing), must include restrictions/requirements (mostly missing), and should include research (check!). Your question is incomplete.

  • Against what reality is this being tested? Actual reality? Flying giant pterosaurs appear to be proven by the fossil record — but we do not have anything but guesses as to how that musculature, skin/scales, bone structure, etc. allowed for the flight. So, please remember that we don't have factual evidence to back up a reality check — other than the rules we've learned to work with ourselves. (Like the lift equations @aCVn sugggested.)

  • IMHO, there isn't enough description to explain what it is we are analyzing. Yes, we can click through the links and read all the secondary info, which helps, but that's a lot of work for volunteers. No, you're not obligated to bring all the data we need into the question. But neither are we obligated to accept your question without all the data. IMHO, the lack of a clear description of what you're trying to achieve is a problem (don't be cute, be specific).

  • You appear to have written the question very quickly. It's jumbled, almost train-of-thought. Consider this:

I could just simply copy the Quetzy's flight muscles and wing bones, and have a pair of them in the dragon's torso. In essence, it works like a galley. However, instead of having the wing pairs separate, both sets are connected to the same membrane and the muscles flap it synchronously.

I have no clear idea what this means. It took reading the first link just to figure out what "Quetzy" referred to (this was the fist introduction to Quetzalcoatlus, and you chose to use a nick name. Like I said, don't be cute, be specific). After reading the question, the answer, this post, and all the secondary pages, I think you are comparing the badly described change in muscles to the fact that the oars of a galley ship are usually operated simultaneously. I'm arrogant enough to consider myself a reasonably bright person, but this took a minute to figure out. It is NOT clear.

On a side note, the reason birds don't have tandem wings is that they need to meet the needs of the wind. It's a serious compromise to not allow those wings to move independently — if that's what you intended.

Finally, let's look at your question itself

I assume your question is: "I have a dragon based on a giant pterosaur using the proposed musculature of Quetzalcoatlus modified in such a way that the wings no longer operate independently but always flap in tandem in a manner similar to the use of oars for a galley ship. My dragon is 1.82 m long with a wing area of 22 m2. As a reality check, is it believable that this dragon could fly?"

But what you wrote was:

So, could this "galley solution" work in terms of doubling the maximum weight a dragon can attain and still fly (read: take off and climb out with anaerobic muscles)?

  1. "Galley solution," by that I assume you mean the wings not flapping independently? What makes you think independent control of the wings wouldn't permit flight?

  2. What does "doubling the maximum weight" refer to? What's the current maximum weight of a dragon? What's a dragon? Are we doubling the maximum weight of a giant pterosaur? What's their standard weight?

  3. By "can attain" I assume you mean in maturity? Can dragons overeat? Should we assume they want to fly after gorging on a really good meal?

  4. Anaerobic muscles? I assume you mean sprinter's muscles, which make use of an anaerobic metabolism? You seem to have spent your question talking about galley oars, and only now you introduce sprinter's muscles?

Items 2-4 are introducing entirely new concepts at the last second. That's bad juju.


Your question has certainly improved through editing. But it's still confusing. It's as if you just sit down and start typing without actually thinking through what you're trying to say to your audience. You have a wonderful imagination, but you need to look at your world through our eyes. We can't read your mind and it's difficult to make all the associations that you have in the same way.

Long story short: no, your question isn't ready to be reopened.

  • Write your question statement with a simple sentence.

  • Make sure your examples and metaphors are clearly established as such. Also be sure the reader understands the connection between your "reality" and the example that's meant to clarify it.

  • Include all the necessary statistics, data, information, descriptions, conditions, requirements, and expectations are in your question.

  • Slow down. I mean this. It's not meant to be an insult. I spent a great many years as a technical writer. Even though I was dealing with people who were educated and practiced in the art, I had to write as if they didn't have a clue about my subject — because many times they didn't, despite being completely qualified to use the software and modeling tools I was writing about. Writing questions on this site is 100% technical writing (0% creative writing!). Slow down, and make sure you've seen your question through our eyes.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! This was everything I wanted to say but wasn't willing to take the time to compose the other day (and then some!). +1 and I second this. $\endgroup$
    – MarielS
    Apr 26, 2019 at 21:30
  • $\begingroup$ I revised the question, take a look $\endgroup$ Apr 27, 2019 at 8:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Mephistopheles Much, much, much, much, much, much better. Congratulations! $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Apr 28, 2019 at 2:18

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