So, a soldier has manage to get into the back of a dragon and now the dragon is flying. He somehow gets to the dragon head while the dragon flying up to 45mph and at up to 35-60 meters in the air, and kills it, then the dragon will start to fall.

My question is, is there any way the soldier can survive? Is opening a hole in the dragon skin and getting inside it flesh a good idea?


  • Medieval tech only.
  • The soldier has a leather and chain armor.
  • He also has a sword and a shield held in his back.
  • No water is near.
  • No buildings near.


I changed altitude, may have exagerated with 100 meters.

  • $\begingroup$ obviously what you want to achieve is reduce the acceleration when hitting the ground. either fall slower, or have a longer way to decelerate. While your idea attempts to do the latter, why not use his cape as a parachute? $\endgroup$ – Burki Sep 9 '16 at 13:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Burki that's a good idea, but our hero does not wear cape, I forgot to add that part in the description. $\endgroup$ – Yacomini Sep 9 '16 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Murray_(skydiver) $\endgroup$ – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Sep 9 '16 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ Getting inside its flesh would achieve nothing. It's not compressible enough to have any significant effect. Unless the dragon is built out of some foam instead of regular flesh and bones, its body is mostly water. It will not cushion you enough to be of any help. $\endgroup$ – vsz Sep 9 '16 at 21:56
  • $\begingroup$ @DannyPflughoeft And the world record: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vesna_Vulovi%C4%87 $\endgroup$ – BЈовић Sep 12 '16 at 13:44

Clip it and kill it on the ground

Surviving a 35-60 meter drop to the ground without any preparations? No, that cannot be done. Anything above 10 meters is next to certain death. Anything above 5 meters, at that speed, equals a big bunch of broken bones.

So unless your hero came onto the beast with a parachute, yet still hopes to live after the feat, your hero has only one option and that it to injure the dragon such that it is forced to land, and then kill it on the ground. A punctured lung or two will probably fix that.

Edit after question edit: Trying to get inside the dragon? The time it takes to fall 35-60 meters is less than 4 seconds. Trying to cut a hole through dragon skin; a hole so big your hero can get inside; then squeeze inside and get deep enough to be adequately cushioned to avoid going SPLAT, all in 4 seconds? No.

Plus there is a lateral speed of 45 mph / 72 kph to deal with. So who knows how many compatriots will be flattened by this tumbling, falling bowling ball of a mass as it comes skidding across the battlefield.

I stick with my answer: your hero needs to injure the dragon to force it to the ground, and then kill it.

  • $\begingroup$ I'd mark you as correct, but I want to see other answer now after a little edit I'll make to the question. May have exagerated with such altitude. $\endgroup$ – Yacomini Sep 9 '16 at 13:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Yacomini See my edit $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Sep 9 '16 at 13:46
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    $\begingroup$ Ignoring air resistance, if they were 35 m off the ground, they would traveling at 58.6 mph vertically when they hit the ground, plus the 45 mph horizontally. If they were 60 m off the ground, they would be traveling 76.7 mph vertically and 45 mph horizontally. I don't think they would feel good if they didn't do what Michael suggested. $\endgroup$ – C Anderson Sep 9 '16 at 14:18
  • $\begingroup$ @CAnderson getting the right measures for the speed is also tricky, because I also need to be enough slow to our hero being capable of holding the dragon, but anywhere I think this is the correct answer. $\endgroup$ – Yacomini Sep 9 '16 at 14:40

Damage the wings in a way that reduces control

For example, with birds you just need to remove the tips of one of their wings. Throw a knife through its wing - wings won't be as strong as they need to be light.

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This will result in a slow spiral back to the ground whilst the dragon is still conscious but unable to perform any complex manoeuvres to avoid handly placed archers to take it from below. Allowing you to finish it off closer to the ground, when it's more heavily wounded and where you can get off without dying.

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    $\begingroup$ Very explanatory. However may I ask if it's possible to reach the wing in plane flight? I'm not much acquainted on how does creatures fly, but they move their wings, and that would make it a very ahrd place to reach. I know when they dive they don't swing them, but when diving it would be hard to be moving, you may want to get a good grab into the dragon to avoid falling. $\endgroup$ – Yacomini Sep 9 '16 at 13:47
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    $\begingroup$ that's why I stated a throwing knife, most flying animals with the exception of insects and hummingbirds after taking off and getting to speed glide with out-stretched wings only altering them to change direction and speed. I would have suggested a mini crossbow but didn't feel it sat right with a knight $\endgroup$ – Chris J Sep 9 '16 at 13:49
  • $\begingroup$ Damaging the base of the wing could work also, couldn't it? Even if the skin of the dragon is very resistant, pressure (force over area) will stab him, and slowing it down. $\endgroup$ – Yacomini Sep 9 '16 at 13:54
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    $\begingroup$ @Yacomini any part that is used in steering would work, even slashing the muscles near the base of the wing so the wing was impaired but not fully disabled $\endgroup$ – Chris J Sep 9 '16 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ The dragon may well be on a terminal glide to the ground. However, our hero is now sitting on top of a badly-injured, angry dragon. If it's an intelligent dragon, it could well decide to go for a kamikaze strike on whatever seems a good target within range on the battlefield. If it's an unintelligent dragon, pure reflex will involve it writhing in midair to rip our hero limb from limb. Neither is going to end well for the hero. $\endgroup$ – Graham Sep 9 '16 at 17:28

It's possible, but it depends on how the dragon's body works.

Some birds (albatrosses in particular; there may be others) have the ability to lock their wings outstretched. It doesn't then take any muscle strength to keep the wings extended. If the dragon has the same ability, then its dead body may still have wings extended. So the dragon's body won't plummet to the ground, it'll keep flying.

It may also be possible to inflict some kind of spinal injury which would have the same effect, causing the wings to spasm into fully-locked position.

You now have a barbarian hero flying a dragon-corpse hang-glider over a battlefield. At this point, your Rule of Cool meter has the needle buried at maximum, so do what the hell you want after that.

  • $\begingroup$ Would such a dragon without the ability to control its wings go into a phugoid? That'd be a big problem for the hero -- now he's riding the equivalent of UA232, only without any thrust levers to fly by! $\endgroup$ – Shalvenay Sep 10 '16 at 4:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Shalvenay As a hang-glider pilot myself, I'm afraid it's far more likely that the dragon will stall or tumble, or enter a spiral-dive from which the hero can't recover. But if you're running on Rule of Cool then you can handwave the unpleasant realities! :) Escape from LA was far more unrealistic, but it still made for a fun film. $\endgroup$ – Graham Sep 12 '16 at 10:29
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah -- without a horizontal stab to provide positive static stability, the hero's got bigger problems than a phugoid :P $\endgroup$ – Shalvenay Sep 12 '16 at 11:39

Actually, you can survive the fall, no matter from how high. In air, a human being has a maximum reachable velocity due to air friction. I am not 100% sure, but i think you already reach that if jumping from a 10-story-building or something like that. And impact to the ground with that velocity - can be survived.

If you hit muddy, soft ground (NOT water). And have a sh**ton of luck. Also, you should throw away your equipment, as having the heavy stuff on you will increase your chances of dying by a lot.

In fact several skydivers have jumped out of airplanes, their parachutes malfunctioning, and survived the fall. (See this link: Wikipedia Page)

You will make your character a lucky good guy who survives by sheer luck instead of his own skills, but it is possible. So if he finds something that dampens the fall, or the dragon doesn't die immediately but is just fatally wounded or something, so he falls slower, you are well within reach of realistic events....

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    $\begingroup$ when you hit the ground, your armour will keep moving downwards. if you wanted to take your chances, I'd throw away all your gear and then jump... bonus points if you miss all the spiky things in the battle going on below $\endgroup$ – Chris J Sep 9 '16 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ @ChrisJ: The spiky things are indeed a problem. Also, i edited my answer to include armor and equipement. $\endgroup$ – Andreas Heese Sep 9 '16 at 13:53
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    $\begingroup$ If you want your book to be believable, you might need to include the link to Wikipedia in a footnote. Just because reality allows it doesn't always make it believable to readers. Without the Wikipedia citation here, I'd've said this was impossible. I learned something, but I'm not sure if it helps your story. Perhaps you can work in foreshadowing of a wizard experimenting with falling cats or something earlier? :-) $\endgroup$ – SRM Sep 9 '16 at 16:21
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    $\begingroup$ Even a one-in-a-hundred lucky feat without proper foreshadowing will destroy suspension of disbelief. Here, we're dealing with something much more serious, like at least 3 consecutive wins in Russian Roulette with 5 chambers out of 6 loaded. $\endgroup$ – Daerdemandt Sep 9 '16 at 18:33
  • $\begingroup$ @SRM "I'd've" I like the fancy English there: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/I%27d%27ve $\endgroup$ – Simply Beautiful Art Sep 9 '16 at 22:44

Maybe strong whirlwind can helps him to survive. Like at 'Wizard of Oz' book it can be put by the Hero on the ground in order to cushion his fall.


the mass of a dragon is large and thus your hero must crouch and jump up at the very last moment. this would increase the falling speed of the heavy dragon by only a fraction (which we do not care about anyways) and decrease your comparably light hero's falling speed by a much larger margin.

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    $\begingroup$ this is the kind of answer you find on /r/TrollScience. (beautiful) :') $\endgroup$ – Tony Sep 10 '16 at 2:16

Let the dragon crash, with the hero still on the back, into a troop of pikemen (who shouldn't have a chance to run away in time). The natural, albeit desperate, reaction for these unlucky fellows will be to point their spears at the approaching monster. Many of the spears may break at the tough hide, some may penetrate it, and inevitably the dragon will eventually end up on the ground crushing the infantry regardless... but at any rate the poles, solidly backed against the ground, will provide a strong yet not instantaneous braking force, over a crumple zone of several meters. This cushions the impact considerably (at least from the hero's point of view). Now he just needs to be lucky enough to not get pierced by a spear that somehow made it through the entire dragon's body without breaking.


If he is smart enough he will kill the dragon when he is flying over the sea. Water will reduce the impact.


OK don't kill the dragon, instead incapacitate him with a fatal blow until it reaches the ground very wounded, and then finish it.

Other method :

If he's falling near a high tower, he could stick his dagger/sword and reduces his fall by friction while looking cool !!!

  • $\begingroup$ Dragon is flying over a battlefield which in this case is plain ground $\endgroup$ – Yacomini Sep 9 '16 at 13:20
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    $\begingroup$ 350 ft into the air = 100 meters... smacking into the water will be like hitting concrete. And of that does not kill him (against all reasonable odds) the chain armor will drag him down and drown him. $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Sep 9 '16 at 13:28
  • $\begingroup$ Thinking that there will be no problem about jumping from high to water has ruined a lot of lifes. $\endgroup$ – MEPx Sep 9 '16 at 14:26
  • $\begingroup$ @MEPx Is it that bad ? in that case blame it on Hollywood movies :) $\endgroup$ – Javert Sep 9 '16 at 14:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Javert The MythBusters tested sails and found that sticking daggers in them doesn't work, so high towers won't help either. $\endgroup$ – matsjoyce Sep 9 '16 at 15:11

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