Month 14

It has now been a full year since the dragons have hatched!

Feeding: Every three or four days.

General Care: Bathing every third day, oiling every other day. It is very important that riders keep an extra close eye on their dragonsŐ physical health and watch for any tears or weaknesses in their synthetic harnesses that could mean a fatal flaw from the air.

Training: Dragons and their partners take their first flights together this month. As a group, riders will put their harnesses on their dragon then proceed to mount and clip in. Once both the dragon and rider are comfortable on the ground, the dragon will run up the same ramp used for their first unmanned flights and stay in the air about 30-60 seconds, flapping a few times to reach a maximum altitude of 30-40 feet before landing. Once everyone has been through and had their turn, those who feel up to it can go on a few more trials runs after they are cleared by the medical and science teams present. Injuries are common and can include jarred necks (on both dragons and humans), sprains, whiplash, and broken bones.

The first week is spent on short solo flights, increasing length and learning to turn so dragons may make spiral descents. They use the ramp for the first few days, then learn to take off from the ground while carrying a rider. Then, dragons increasing altitude to a few hundred feet and practice making sharper turns and other quick, aerial maneuvers. More than one pair may practice at a time, but no formation flying is attempted yet. Dragons learn to takeoff and land smoothly without jolting their riderŐs head and adjust to banking and unexpected air currents with the moveable weight of their rider.

The last week, dragons and their riders will practice flying in unison. They only will do the most basic movements in groups of three, practicing turning, taking off, and landing together. Riders will practice communicating with one another through their dragons while in the air.

Although partners and dragons are eager to explore the freedom of the sky, the scientists caution the riders not to allow their dragons to overexert themselves or riders may faint from lack of oxygen at the higher altitudes. Scientists discourage any bareback riding or the use of dragons as transportation outside of the training sessions, but donŐt forbid it unless the dragon is obviously being harmed or but in danger.

Size: 69 inches in height at the withers, or mid-forehead on a 6-foot person. Dragons are now large enough to carry even the heaviest of people for short flights.

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