Mating flights in Anne McCaffrey's Dragon Riders of Pern occur when a female dragon's body, wether Gold or Green, goes into 'heat'.
About two days before the female dragon goes into heat, her colouring starts to become more vibrant and takes on a sort of muted glow.
The morning in which the dragon reaches the peak of her sexual readiness, the male dragons (Only Bronzes when a Gold rises and Bronze, Brown and Blue when a Green rises) begin to 'blood their kills'. What is meant here, is that instead of killing and eating the entire carcass of his prey, he sucks it dry of its blood. This enables him to have enough energy for the upcoming mating flight, but not be weighed down by the meat of the animal.

During this, the female dragon is most often still asleep, and by all appearances, quite normal. When she awakens, however, her thoughts are chaotic and the link between dragon and rider is strengthened far more than is usual.

The dragon then makes haste to the feeding grounds of the weyr and selects her prey. When her prey is dead on a stone ledge of the grounds, a battle then commences between the dragon and her rider.

For the female to produce a large clutch of eggs, (Gold's only, but the Green dragons follow the same principles) she must fly long and far during the mating flight. So she too, must blood her kill. The chaos that is her mind, however, does not understand that, and so the rider must pit her/his will against that of their dragon to force it to do so.

Once the dragon has drank the blood of her three to five kills, her hide's muted glow is no longer muted, but "Blazes like the sun" as was described in Dragonflight. She then leaps from the feeding grounds and takes off away from the Weyr with the males in quick pursuit.

At this point, the minds of the dragons participating and those of their riders become so totally linked, that the exact thoughts of one become the thoughts of the other. In all senses, the rider actually becomes his/her dragon.

While the dragons are flying, the riders of the male dragons surround that of the female dragon, forming a protective ring around him/her and also providing easy access to them after the flight. The dragons by this time, are miles away from the weyr and still continuing to fly. The smaller and older dragons begin to drop back as they cannot hold the pace set by the fast female dragons. Eventually, there are only a few dragons left in the sky. At this point, the female tends to taunt and goad the males. This is where stealth and manoeuvrability comes into play more than speed, and quite often, the smartest male dragon will then catch and mate with the female.

At the weyr, when this happens, the riders of the dragons who failed to mate with the female stumble away to their own weyrs, leaving the two successful riders alone. The two riders of the dragons who are now mating are so entwined with their dragons mind, that they two also cannot help but to mate.

The controversial issue in the mating flights, as you may have noticed, is that when a Green dragon rises to mate, her rider is most often a male. So while homosexuality is an issue among non-weyr people, within the weyr, it is not frowned upon. In fact, many of the riders of Brown, Blue and Green riders are bi-sexual.

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