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While looking into broomsticks and their use in Harry Potter, I found that there was no spell or charm that would make a human fly. Originally, once they found ways to make objects fly, they needed to use objects that they could have handy and keep in the house, but which would not seem suspect to muggles. One easy choice was the broom, since it'd be inconspicuous in any home and would always be handy.

But I can't find any mention of spells, charms, or enchantments are used to make brooms fly. However, Voldemort and Snape have both flown on their own. So the only examples of flying people are two dark wizards.

What is it about the magic used to make a broom fly but that only dark wizards seem to want to use it on themselves? (Or, perhaps, did Snape and Voldemort use magic on, say, their clothes or something different?)


Addendum: In Quidditch Through the Ages it specifically states that there is no known spell that makes a human fly.

  • I wonder now if the flying car and brooms used the same enchantments. – Xantec Feb 3 '12 at 15:36
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    @Xantec: I'd suggest waiting to see if anyone can answer this and then ask that as a question. (No point of there's no answer here -- if we don't know what makes a broom fly, we don't know if it's the same as what makes the car fly!) – Tango Feb 3 '12 at 16:14
  • Dumbledore was able to fly too... – Baby Yoda Feb 3 '12 at 23:24
  • thats called apparating , not flying. apparating is teleporting from one place to another. and I think voldemort was not flying , he was just apparating in slow motion.lol – Sandeep R Feb 11 '14 at 5:24
  • See also the other questions scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/3237 Why did it seem like only Voldemort and Snape could fly? scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/23054 Can Snape fly without metamorphosis? scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/10500 Can the Force Be Used to Fly? – b_jonas Jul 3 '14 at 11:28
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According to J K Rowling, people could fly without a broom, just it is extremely difficult and risky. (more so than Wandless magic)

JK Rowling. Yes, nearly all wizards use wands, which makes magic easier to channel. Wandless magic is sophisticated and takes more talent.
Q. So would that work the same for brooms? Would more advanced wizards/witches not need a broom to fly?
JK Rowling. Exactly. Wands and brooms (and flying cars) are tools that channel magic. The most gifted can dispense with them.
Q. Are there many wizards/witches at Hogwarts who can do magic and fly without wands or brooms?
JK Rowling. No, there's a cultural tradition of using wands and broomless flight is (as you might imagine) very risky!
(Source)

We could interpret Kennilworthy Whisp's "No spell yet devised enables wizards to fly unaided in human form" as referring exclusively to spells and not to wandless magic.

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  1. Your original premise seems to be disproven by the books ("I found that there was no spell or charm that would make a human fly" followed by dismissing Voldemort's example).

    Yes, Voldemort could fly (from DH) BUT so could Snape (also from DH). While Snape likes himself some Dark Arts, he would NOT "use something quite dark or possibly even harmful to others" that was bad to such an extent you would want to dismiss it out of hand.

    "No, he's not dead," said McGonagall bitterly. "Unlike Dumbledore, he was still carrying a wand...and he seems to have learned a few tricks from his master." With a tinge of horror, Harry saw in the distance a huge, batlike shape flying through the darkness toward the perimeter wall. (DH pg 599/482)

  2. Also, I'm not 100% sure what was going on in SS/PS during the Quidditch game, but when Quirrell was jinxing Harry's broom to throw him off, Snape was counter-jinxing to keep Harry flying. It's not clear if he was levitating Harry or not.

  3. In GoF movie, fake-Moody-Crouch was making Malfoy/ferret fly (or flip in the air at any rate). My only 2 concerns are whether that scene is in the book, and whether it was something SPECIFIC to animal form (meaning you could not do the same thing to a human). Since nobody tumbled on to him being a Death Eater from performing the trick - including McGonagall who saw it - it means it wasn't a Death Eater Special.

  4. In DH, Charity Burbage (Muggle Studies teacher Voldemort murdered at the meeting) "was suspended upside down over a table". The movie shows her levitating, though you again run into "Voldemort exemption" here.


As an aside, there's one more way to make a human fly - Animagus transform. If your Animagus form is flyable, you can fly. But that's cheating so it doesn't count.

  • Yes, but that was late in the series and, before that, we saw no hint of people flying. Even the wiki makes the point that I do -- people couldn't fly until Voldemort seemed to figure it out, which implies dark magic. – Tango Feb 3 '12 at 16:40
  • @TangoOversway - your question is worded "Why Can Objects Fly and People Can't?" The answer is "They can". If you want to know why nobody but Dark wizards flew, you need to adjust the question, or ask a new one. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Feb 3 '12 at 16:43
  • Good suggestion -- I'll edit it when I get back. (Or if you have a good idea, feel free to edit before that.) – Tango Feb 3 '12 at 16:45
  • Voldemort was regarded as quite talented, even brilliant, before he was openly working with dark magic. I'm not certain its safe to assume that Voldemort using it == it is dark magic. – Beofett Feb 3 '12 at 20:38
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    It's obvious that people can levitate others, but not themselves. This is not considered flying. Your points 2, 3 and 4 are irrelevant to actually 'flying' as they consist entirely of people being levitated. – user32390 Mar 29 '16 at 21:01
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I see a difference that I think the OP realizes but the responders don't. Moody was levitating malfoy (someone else). It is assumed one of the death eaters or Voldemort was levitating Burbage (someone else). So I think the question can be rephrased or broken down: is levitating someone the same as making them fly; and if they are the same, is there a difference between levitating yourself and levitating someone else.

Notice that you don't have to enchant a broom to fly each time; it was done at manufacture. You don't have to enchant the Golden Snitch each time. They are flying, not being actively levitated by a person. Given this distinction, I think the Malfoy and Burbage examples are unrelated to this discussion.

  • Didn't Harry cast Wingardium Leviosa on the motorbike in DH? which caused it to rise dramatically until he was distracted? – Steven Wood Feb 21 '14 at 15:43
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This probably isn't right, but wouldn't it make sense to say that brooms can fly if the person riding fuels it with their magic by willing it to fly. Brooms are made of wood, and in many tales wood has magical properties.Maybe the newer and better brooms are made out of better wood, and are more comfortable, aerodynamic which makes them easier to ride and be all around better.

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