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The Reinforced Wings feat (Races of the Dragon, p. 101) says at the end:

Normal: Flying creatures can’t fly in medium or heavy armor or when carrying a medium or heavy load.

I could not find any trace of this supposed "normal" rule in the DMG or PHB. Where is it?

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Most creatures can fly in heavy armor but mounts can't

The Player's Handbook on Barding, Medium Creature and Large Creature says, "Flying mounts can’t fly in medium or heavy barding" (131), but, more importantly, the Monster Manual in its glossary on Movement Modes under fly says, "A creature with a fly speed can move through the air at the indicated speed if carrying no more than a light load…. (Note that medium armor does not necessarily constitute a medium load.)" (312).

Thus, with regard to armor and flight, the game makes a distinction between mounts—creatures presently allowing themselves to be ridden by other creatures—and creatures not being used as mounts.

However, because the Monster Manual is the primary source on creatures, I give it precedence and assume that the 3.5 revision accidentally overlooked revising that line in the Player's Handbook. The 3.5 revision added to the Monster Manual that parenthetical reminder text, making this reader think that it's the load that prevents a creature from flying and not the armor type. So, in my campaigns, armored monsters can fly no matter what kind of armor they wear as long as they aren't carrying more than a light load, but another DM might still want to use instead the printed rules.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Typically an adventurer is heavy enough to be more than a light load by themselves. An adult human (weighing 170lb) would leave only 50lb of cargo available to stay within a light load for a typical Heavy Horse. A suit of chainmail, plus a shield and longsword would tip you over the edge into a Medium Load. \$\endgroup\$ – Kyyshak May 2 at 13:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kyyshak You're right, of course, but riding into a battle a heavy horse is unwise; it's the warhorses that are to be ridden into battle, and even a light warhorse has 230 lbs. to work with. Besides, horses—typically—don't fly, which is the real issue here, so they can be loaded down with a heavy load and all that'll happen is that they'll be slower. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 2 at 13:27

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