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Why did it seem like only Voldemort and Snape could fly?

During the asking and answering of my question about people flying, one point has come up: Both Voldemort and Snape flew, seemingly on their own.

However, in Quidditch Through the Ages, by J. K. Rowling (in other words, not fanfic or written as part of the franchise, but by the author herself), it specifically states that there is no known spell that can make humans fly.

Which leaves the question: How did Voldemort and Snape fly? Did they have something in their clothes that flew like a broom? Did they make long underwear they could put on under their clothes and enchant that? Just how did they fly?

  • 13
    Flying Underware Of Darkness. Classic. +5 Levitation, -1 Armor, +100 Dorkiness. Feb 6 '12 at 0:52
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    @DVK: And just imagine if that underwear were all blue, with a big, stylized "S" on the front and a red cape on the back! (Hey, if I could fly after putting on a set of long underwear, I'd put it on and take off!)
    – Tango
    Feb 6 '12 at 1:48
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    There is an art, or, rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. Pick a nice day, and try it. The first part is easy. All it requires is simply the ability to throw yourself forward with all your weight, and the willingness not to mind that it's going to hurt. Clearly, it is the second part, the missing, which presents the difficulties. You have to miss the ground accidentally.
    – Jeff
    Feb 6 '12 at 5:59
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    Isn't this one similar to scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/3237/… ? Feb 6 '12 at 15:21
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    hi @Jeff .. smile .. thanks for that ... sadly less and less people get the reference these days :)
    – Fattie
    Mar 23 '16 at 14:05

I don't have a canon answer, but I'm fairly certain it was NOT anything pedestrian like underwear - otherwise, many other wizards would have magical flying underwear, the same way they have invisibility cloaks and flying brooms.

The answer most likely lies in the fact that Quidditch Through the Ages is an OLD book, so the information in it is out of date.

  • It is published (in-universe) well before Voldemort is first shown to be able to fly (as confirmation, the last broom it mentions as far as Nimbus models is "Nimbus 1700" - as we all know, Harry's First year model 2000 came out).

  • Out of universe, it was published (2001) before Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003) as well.

Therefore, its (in-universe) authors - as well as JKR out-of-universe - may have been stating 100% correct facts as of that time, after which the brightest magical student that Hogwarts have ever seen (Riddle, that is) surpassed everyone and figured out such a spell.

  • I believe it was published IRL before they were known to fly.
    – Kevin
    Feb 6 '12 at 1:00
  • @Kevin - correct. 2001 vs 2003. I added to the answer Feb 6 '12 at 1:05

You answered yourself:

it specifically states that there is no known spell that can make humans fly.

Obviously Voldemort found a spell that can make humans fly. Everyone was floored by this fact (in the book...it doesn't really ruffle any feathers in the movie). This is the guy who split his soul seven times through a very dark spell. (Sidenote: Riddle was in effect a Lich and the Horcruxes were his phylacteries).

During his exile, he was no doubt researching as much as he could to bring himself back to power. In the course of his studies, he likely found a spell for true self levitation.


I think that "flying" was a difficult task yet not impossible. Bot Voldemort and Snape were great wizards. Dumbledore didn't need to fly in and out of Hogwarts because he could disapparate (head master privileges and such)

It is similar to non-verbal spells. Some are by default non-verbal, others can be made non verbal depending on the competency of the wizard.

Similar to how Snape and Voldy were good at Legilimency, and other wizards probably weren't as good.

  • Dumbledore could only apparate in and out of Hogwarts in the movies.
    – Kevin
    Feb 7 '12 at 13:57

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