Recently, I learned about an incident during the Yom Kippur war in which Israeli fighter pilots in F-4s destroyed low-flying Mi-8 helicopters by using the blast from their jet engines to send the helicopters crashing into the ground. When utilised correctly, the displacement of air can be a terrifically effective weapon.

As a result of this, comes my question what would be the destructive capabilities of the huge amount of air displaced by a dragon flapping its wings? Would it be a viable weapon to use against puny humans in my story?

For the sake of the question, said dragon would be roughly identical in dimensions to Smaug from The Hobbit movies (130 meters long with a ~150-170 metre wingspan).

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    $\begingroup$ Almost every movie and TV show that has dragons has shown them flapping up a small hurricane to disrupt the puny humans. So the trivial answer to your question is "yes." However, we don't know anything about your humans. Can you provide one detailed and specific scenario to which we can apply the concept of a force-of-air dragon attack? If not, this question is too broad, because as-written "he could put out all their campfires" and "he could undercut jet planes" are both legitimate answers. Never assume that we know what you're talking about. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Oct 3, 2022 at 2:55
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    $\begingroup$ Low-flying helicopters are uniquely vulnerable to big wind gusts, because if they are knocked off balance they can easily crash. Still, I'm quite skeptical that the incident you described actually happened. I found a source for it but I'm still dubious - sounds like wartime propaganda, "just flying over the enemy was enough to beat them." Consider how close they'd have to be to hit the helicopter with the jet wash - that's stunt flying, not something you'd want to do in actual combat. $\endgroup$
    – causative
    Commented Oct 3, 2022 at 5:22
  • $\begingroup$ @causative that looks like a question for Skeptics.SE ;) $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Oct 3, 2022 at 6:16
  • $\begingroup$ @ebinbenis I suggest that you mght look for an online video of Rodan (1956) for research purposes. Of course that would be an extreme example. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 4, 2022 at 5:26
  • $\begingroup$ @causative I concur. Every wargame that has been played by any military says that jet fighters should stay away from helicopters and try to knock them with Air-to-Air missiles from afar. The performance and agility of helicopters in low-speed, low-altitude conditions put jets at a severe disavantage in dogfights. Even if the helicopters aren't carrying AA-missilies, it's a risk not worth taking. $\endgroup$
    – Rekesoft
    Commented Oct 4, 2022 at 15:08

1 Answer 1


It depends on how heavy do you want your dragon to be. If you want to make it realistic keep in mind that birds and pterosaurs had light bones that were either thin, hollow or both. With that in mind if your dragon is flying it might adopt a same evolutionary trait which would make it much lighter than would the looks have you believe. Also from what I know the propulsion of the wing flap is not decided necessary by its force by rather of its speed- with that in mind we see that the smaller the oranism the more frequent the wing flaps are (we can see it in humming birds, bees etc) which means that your dragon would not need a strong wing flap to lift itslef. I found a few equations if you want to make it work https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspa.2014.0952 However I do not think it would be such a devastating weapon.


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