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Unsupported flight

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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 —"
—Harry Potter witnesses Lord Voldemort flying unsupported[src]

Unsupported flight (incantation unknown) is a spell 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.


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

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]



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.[4] He also taught this spell to Severus Snape, who used it to safely escape from Hogwarts shortly before the Battle of Hogwarts.[5] Some Death Eaters also seem to know it, most likely taught by Lord Voldemort and then passed on.

Lord Voldemort's daughter, Delphini, mastered the use of this ability.


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.


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.
  • 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. He is mostly shown to do so in films, while his version of flight in the books did involve him turning partially into black smoke while in flight, while he cannot levitate and float as a cloud of smoke as he did in the films.
  • 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 flying without any visible support, most likely due to Voldemort possessing him. 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.
  • The Obscurial from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (film) is able to flying without any physical supports, similar to Ghosts.


Notes and references

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