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"And then Harry saw him. Voldemort was flying like smoke on the wind, without broomstick or thestral to hold him, his snake-like face gleaming out of the blackness, his white fingers raising his wand again —"
—Lord Voldemort flying unsupported[src]

Unsupported flight (incantation unknown, if any) is a spell or magical technique that allows a witch or wizard to fly without the use of a broomstick or other form of support. The spell was created by Lord Voldemort.

History

Early attempts

"No spell yet devised enables wizards to fly unaided in human form... Levitation is commonplace, but our ancestors were not content with hovering five feet from the ground. They wanted more. They wanted to fly like birds, but without the inconvenience of growing feathers."
Kennilworthy Whisp, Quidditch Through the Ages
HobartLevitating

Jarleth Hobart's first public use of the Levitation Charm on himself, on 16 July, 1544

Attempts to fly unaided have been made by wizards since ancient times. Levitation has been possible at least since the invention of the Levitation Spell in ancient England,[1] and an attempt to improve upon this and achieve true flight made by Jarleth Hobart in 1544 led to the invention of the Levitation Charm.[2] The flying broomstick, which allows wizards to fly with relative ease and convenience, was invented around 962 A.D., and seemed to satisfy most wizards' desire to fly. True, unaided flight of a human being, however, was long considered a magical impossibility, discounting any animagi whose form take on flight-able species.[3]

A rare example of a wizard flying unaided happened in 1926, when the Obscurial Credence Barebone unleashed his pent-up abilities, transforming into his Obscurus form and flying around New York.[4] However, for obvious reasons, this was far from the secret sought by wizards, since it was impossible to control by the wizard himself and an irreplicable symptom of a deadly condition.

Invention

SnapeFlying

Severus Snape flies through a window and out of Hogwarts Castle

Sometime prior to 1997, Tom Riddle succeeded where other wizards had failed and managed true flight. He first publicly showed off this ablity during the Battle of the Seven Potters, using the spell to great effect and almost managing to defeat Harry Potter if not for an odd reaction with their wands.[5]

Later uses

Following his creation of it, Riddle taught this spell to his servant Severus Snape, who used it to safely escape from Hogwarts shortly before the Battle of Hogwarts.[6] While forced to share Quirinus Quirrell's body in 1991-1992, Riddle had also apparently taught the secret to Quirrell, likely for his own convenience.[7]

After his death, Riddle's daughter, Delphini, mastered the use of this ability as well[8], although how she did so is unknown.

Nature

Unsupported Flight Voldemort

Voldemort in flight

Unsupported flight is different from levitation, which only allows objects to fly a few feet off the ground and does not work on humans. Unsupported flight was specifically designed for human use thus giving one the ability to fly from far up without the aid of an object. It is unknown how long a person can stay airborne or if it works over vast distances.

Practitioners

Behind the scenes

Unsupported Flight Voldemort game

In the game

  • In the Harry Potter films, Apparition is often depicted as similar to flight, with those using it even able to cast spells, physically fight, and affect the stability of the Millennium Bridge while flying closely around its support cables, causing them to break off telekinetically. In this form, characters are shown to be able to impact and collide with each other hard enough to launch humans several yards or even break through wooden or stone walls. The characters that do so, namely Death Eaters or Order of the Phoenix members, can turn into pillars of black or white smoke that rush through the air. As it is portrayed in the books, however, this sort of application of Apparition would be impossible, and thus this cannot be considered canon. Also, in every film with the Dark Mark in the sky, Death Eaters are shown Apparating inside of its mouth in smoke form. This allows them to fly out of it and appear wherever it is cast, allowing them to use it as a sort of portal.
  • Also in the films, Voldemort can turn into and emanate black smoke, especially from his cloak, allowing him to levitate, float, and shoot through the air, even while partially transformed into it, while his version of flight in the books did not involve any smoke effects.
  • Many of the Death Eaters during the film version of the Battle of the Seven Potters also were using brooms, despite seemingly all of them demonstrating the ability in flying in smoke, as well as demonstrating being able to use magic while flying.
  • In the films, Dementors also appear to possess the ability of unsupported flight, which differs from the books, where they are described to merely glide over the ground.
  • Poltergeists can also fly through the air without any form of physical aid, as Peeves is described doing so at multiple occasions.
  • Ghosts are capable of flight without any physical supports.
  • In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Quirinus Quirrell was shown flying without any visible support on several occasions. He flew though the air to tackle Harry in the last of the seven Underground Chambers, was levitating and gliding along the ground while consuming the blood of a unicorn in the Dark Forest, and Harry encountered, before flying off into the sky when escaping Firenze. It is likely that for his own convenience, Voldemort himself, who was sharing Quirrell's body at the time, had taught him the secret (which is consistent with his having done so for another trusted underling and Quirrell being described as a very bright wizard by Hagrid).
  • It is unknown how Delphini learnt the skill of unsupported flight, and whether it was biologically inherited, passed down through writing, or learned independently.

Appearances

Notes and references