In book 7, Harry and several members of the Order of the Phoenix seem to be shocked / surprised that Voldemort can fly without transfiguring or without the aid of a broom or enchanted object (motorbike, car, etc...) or a magical creature (Thestral).

Does this mean that flying (a'la 'Superman') is a dark art / what would inherently be dark about doing so?

  • 8
    I cordially disagree w/ the vote to close that this would be opinion based, because since there is an entire class devoted to 'defense against the dark arts' - there are distinct and knowable dark arts. (ie - it isn't an opinion that X or Y is a dark art). Also, considering that a group of extremely advanced and 'good' wizards were surprised at such a thing, Voldemort being the only one known to do so, it seems reasonable to consider that it is. But - I'm looking for canon / word of god evidence as such
    – NKCampbell
    Jun 2, 2018 at 22:28
  • In the movies, flying without brooms looks like "dark art" because only death eaters are seen flying like this and they always leave a trace of dark fog/mist.
    – Zanon
    Jun 2, 2018 at 23:36
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    @Zanon That’s actually the on-screen way of showing Death Eaters Apparating. The company that created the special effects called it “Death Eater Apparition”, never flight. We had the task of creating the deatheater apparation effect. The Death Eaters were to arrive from the sky amongst an amorphous spear of smoke, stabbing into the ground and suddenly taking form amongst tendrils of this acrid black smoke. The black smoke needed to encircle the Death Eaters bodies, becoming the black of their swirling cloaks as they materialized. - Syflex website
    – Obsidia
    Jun 3, 2018 at 21:42
  • @Bellatrix, thanks for the source for movie 4, but in movie 6, they seem to be flying through London. The bridge twists as they pass by.
    – Zanon
    Jun 3, 2018 at 22:25
  • @Zanon I have seen that, and I’m fairly sure it’s still supposed to be the same thing (though it does look more like flying than Apparition).
    – Obsidia
    Jun 3, 2018 at 22:27

3 Answers 3


Not necessarily - it’s just very unusual, so no one expected it.

The Order of the Phoenix likely is just surprised because flying without a broom is considered nearly, if not completely, impossible. Quidditch Through the Ages, a popular book among wizards detailing the history of Quidditch, says there’s no spell invented that allows a wizard to fly unaided in human form. The Dark Lord, however, does exactly that. That would surprise anyone who, knowing this, considered flying without a broom something that was currently not possible.

“No spell yet devised enables wizards to fly unaided in human form. Those few Animagi who transform into winged creatures may enjoy flight, but they are a rarity.”
- Quidditch Through the Ages

J.K. Rowling also clarified this in a tweet, where she says only the most gifted wizards can do it, and it’s very risky so few would attempt it. It’s not described as being Dark magic, just hard to do.

@jk_rowling @bluesrgt So would that work the same for brooms? Would more advanced wizards/witches not need a broom to fly?

Exactly. Wands and brooms (and flying cars) are tools that channel magic. The most gifted can dispense with them.
J.K. Rowling on Twitter

She explains that it’s not something the average wizard could do.

@jk_rowling Are there many wizards/witches at Hogwarts who can do magic and fly without wands or brooms?

.@DreamingOfMagic No, there's a cultural tradition of using wands and broomless flight is (as you might imagine) very risky!
J.K. Rowling on Twitter

Nothing is ever mentioned about it being Dark magic, just difficult magic.

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    It may be that nothing is ever mentioned about it being Dark magic per se, but I seem to remember McGonagall saying about snape something along the lines of he seems to have picked up some tricks from his new master. I agree with this answer :) and it gets my +1, but i certainly don't blame the op for wondering. it does seem like death eater magic from its very limited portrayal on screen
    – Au101
    Jun 2, 2018 at 23:14
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    @Au101 McGonagall did say that about Snape - it’s a logical conclusion whether or not it’s Dark magic. Snape worked with the Dark Lord, likely the only other one she knew who could, so it’s likely Snape learned it from the Dark Lord. Yes, it is a good question, the answer is just ‘it’s probably not Dark magic’.
    – Obsidia
    Jun 2, 2018 at 23:16
  • Snape transfigured / animagused into a bat though, didn't he? Not just jumped out a window and flew away like Iron Man
    – NKCampbell
    Jun 2, 2018 at 23:18
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    @NKCampbell It seems he did just jump out the window. “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 tingle of horror, Harry saw in the distance a huge, bat-like shape flying through the darkness towards the perimeter wall.” He’s said to be batlike but I think it’s his robe. “Our Headmaster is taking a short break,’ said Professor McGonagall, pointing at the Snape-shaped hole in the window.” - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 30 (The Sacking of Severus Snape)
    – Obsidia
    Jun 2, 2018 at 23:23
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    @JanusBahsJacquet A Nimbus is not just a stick. It's magic-powered airplane that's conveniently disguised as a broom. Your argumentation can be compared to saying that controlling a car is more difficult than controlling a skateboard because car keeps your hands on the steering wheel and that's hampering you. It's the opposite: the wheel is specifically designed to make it easier to steer using it rather than balancing your body.
    – Agent_L
    Jun 3, 2018 at 17:45

I would say not as Harry flew onto his school roof in the first book, with unintentional magic.

Dudley's gang had been chasing him as normal when, as much to Harry's surprise as anyone else's, there he was sitting on the chimney. The Dursleys had received a very angry letter from Harry's headmistress telling them Harry had been climbing school buildings. But all he'd tried to do (as he shouted at Uncle Vernon through the locked door of his cupboard) was jump behind the big bins outside the kitchen doors. Harry supposed that the wind must have caught him in mid-jump.
(Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 2, The Vanishing Glass).

He also allowed Aunt Marge to 'fly' (in a manner).

These did not raise any questions about Dark magic and were dealt with as being quite commonplace.

  • 1
    He flew? I don't have the quotes right away, but from what I remember it was kind of implied that he Apparated there. As for both your examples, not wrong, but those are "uncontrolled" magic. I think OP was looking for intended broomless flight.
    – Jenayah
    Jun 3, 2018 at 11:11
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    @JanusBahsJacquet I agree that Apparition is a bit much, but still, wouldn't he remember takiing off and flying? Maybe there is some kind of kid's magic-Apparition thingy, ahah. Uncontrolled magic seems really random sometimes...
    – Jenayah
    Jun 3, 2018 at 12:26
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    I remembered the book as saying he thought the wind had carried him up there.
    – PStag
    Jun 3, 2018 at 12:33
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    kids don't have any control over the magic they do prior to Hogwarts though, its even said in the books that parents are expected to control their children and ensure that they don't do magic accidentally in front of muggles, stay safe, etc...A Dark "art" by definition is a learned behavior. Thus, even if Harry flew accidentally, he never did again, and he didn't learn an 'art' of flying. (This isn't to say I disagree that it isn't a dark art, just that accidental use of magic != dark art). Upvote for a great example
    – NKCampbell
    Jun 3, 2018 at 14:47
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    A little magic in his jump is not flying.
    – rtaft
    Jun 3, 2018 at 22:29

It is not that they think it is a Dark Art. It is that it is something that probably was never heard of before. Like airbenders being able to fly by themselves without gliders or a wand casting unknown spells of its own volition.

  • 1
    Can you edit in why you think this? I.e. why do you think it’s never been heard of before?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Oct 19, 2018 at 7:21
  • because of people's reaction to Voldemort flying by himself and in all the books there was never any mention of wizards flying without a magical object.
    – Ezequil
    Nov 3, 2018 at 18:31

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