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The description of the Fly spell reads:

The subject of a fly spell can charge but not run, and it cannot carry aloft more weight than its maximum load, plus any armor it wears.

It is however difficult to figure how a character can charge without running.

What is the rationale behind this?

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A charge is not a run, it's at double move speed. Fly let's you go that fast, so it works fine with a charge. –  Tridus Feb 19 at 22:01
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3 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

They're not saying you cannot run as in you cannot move faster than normal, but instead that you cannot use the Run action to move 4x your speed in one round. Double your speed is the limit (double move or Charge action). I'm not sure why the limitation -- probably for balance, because the speed given by Fly is faster than most natural movement speeds -- but maybe that helps make it make sense in your head more.

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A Run action represents an increased physical exertion when compared to normal movement. This is not possible when using magical flight - you either have your magical "forward" button pressed or you don't.

The reason Charging still works is that the important part of a Charge is taking advantage of the momentum of two consecutive straight-line move actions, which still accumulates. It doesn't require the speed of a full-out Run (Fly still allows you to cover two move actions' worth of distance in a round, anyway).

There is no rules basis for this, but I find the explanation plausible.

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From a mechanical point of view it is partially because if allowed a Run at a typical 60' fly speed would cover 240' (which is vastly larger than most maps people play upon in a typical game session). But also as others have noted because unlike a character making a physical exertion to move faster along the ground a spell doesn't have a "fast forward" mode.

(and as a GM I might allow non-magical flying creatures to indeed "run" while flying - allowing that Dragon with a 200' move speed to when it wants really get out of range of most PC's)

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