In Chapter 4 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (The Seven Potters) Voldemort was flying unaided, which meant it must have been done with the use of a spell.

Fast forward to Chapter 30 (The Sacking of Severus Snape). Snape jumped out of the window and flew off while McGonagall and the other teachers where in hot pursuit of him. Harry, rather hopefully, wondered if he had jumped to his death. McGonagall, rather gloomily, remarked that alas, he had his wand when he jumped and could employ the ability to fly, a skill he no doubt learnt from his master. She also noted that this situation was unlike Dumbledore's final moment when he was wandless, and thus, could not jump from the ramparts of the highest tower to fly away from Draco Malfoy and the other Death Eaters.

So, this all implies that you do need a wand to fly.

Voldemort started out with a wand but after Harry's wand destroyed it, Voldemort was rendered wandless. You may recall that he was demanding Selwyn's wand.

In short, my SPECIFIC question is: how did he remain airborne without a wand? Side question: did J.K. Rowling ever comment on this extraordinary ability of unaided flight?

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    Specifically, Keith S's answer briefly talks about what is required to fly without a wand or other device (broom, etc).
    – phantom42
    Jan 28, 2015 at 21:18
  • Maybe he's using someone's else wand. In the canon, Voldemort does this at least one time agains HP., if I remember correctly.
    – SylvainL
    Jan 28, 2015 at 23:33
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    @phantom42 I don't know which one of Keith S's responses you've read but the one you link had NOTHING to do with flying without a wand. His comment was more on the dramatization of flying in the movie, which I couldn't care less about. I am curious not into the fact that he could fly, but how he could do so without the continued use of a wand, a point that guy did not SPECIFICALLY address. Jan 29, 2015 at 6:26
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    @JoeW This question isn't asking whether there are any wandless spells (yes), but whether one specific spell can be done wandlessly. It doesn't seem to be addressed by the proposed duplicate.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Dec 2, 2018 at 22:00

4 Answers 4


(What follows is somewhat speculative.)

Here is the quote from McGonagall:

"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."

While this could mean that a wand is necessary to sustain flight, I would argue that nothing McGonagall said precludes the possibility that she meant that a wand is necessary to take flight.

That is to say that to get from the ground to the airborne state of flying requires a wand (and whatever spell/magic is used to enable flight), but once the person is already flying, a wand (and whatever spell/magic is used to enable flight) is no longer necessary. You don't need to continuously perform the flying magic. You just perform the magic once to take flight and then you can continue flying without constantly renewing the magic.

I would argue that this is logical because if it is necessary to be continuously performing the flying magic, it would be a lot harder — if not impossible — to simultaneously perform other magic. Thus an airborne duel would be disastrous.

Moreover, we can draw somewhat of a parallel to broomsticks. Broomsticks are enchanted to fly when they are created, but we never find that a wizard must perform any magic to fly on a broomstick. Once the magic has given the ability of flight to the broomstick it can be flown without any continuous conscious performance of magic. Essentially, then, we can suggest that the magic that allows Voldemort and Snape to fly is in some way equivalent to the magic that allows broomsticks to fly. That is to say that the human being has been magically turned into a vessel of flight, and further magic is not necessary to keep it a vessel of flight.

Of course, one could then argue that one shouldn't need a wand at all to fly. The first time a person flies they would just magically enable themselves to fly, and then never need to specifically perform the flying magic again.

Perhaps this is even true in a sense. It is possible that the spell/magic eventually wears off, perhaps depending on the ability of the caster, so that one might be able to fly for a very long time without a wand but would eventually need a wand again to reinitiate the magic once it wears off.

So Snape and Dumbledore needed wands to fly because they were initiating the flight magic. Voldemort, at the moment he was wandless in the airborne battle was not initiating flight, but merely flying. Some prior point when he did have a wand was when he initiated the flight magic. Whether it was right before the battle (if it needs to be reinitiated before every flight) or whether it was at some earlier point (if the magic can last from flight to flight) he would have had the means to do so.

If this is true there is then no contradiction between McGonagalls statement and the facts of Voldemort's flight.


This is close to being a duplicate, as Himarm comments, but this question is specifically asking how Voldemort can fly without a wand, not how he can fly at all.

However, I think the answer is the same. I don't believe it was ever clarified how Voldemort and Snape could fly, and there is in fact a canon source in Quidditch Through The Ages that contradicts this and says there is no way to fly unaided. That implies that it must be an incredibly rare skill that few know about, possibly unique to Snape and Voldemort. Snape has been known to invent new spells before.

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    Keith S's answer briefly talks about what is required to fly without a wand or other device (broom, etc).
    – phantom42
    Jan 28, 2015 at 21:17
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    No, this is a specific query, not the general question of HOW he could fly (which is simply answered: "if there's a wand, there's a way"). In that case, Voldemort did not have a wand. For the last time, Keith S did not address in his comment in another question, so no, this question is not a duplicate. Before we start marking questions as duplicates please read the questions carefully and remember Snape's statement on SUBTLETY. Jan 29, 2015 at 6:34

We do not have proof that Voldemort was left wandless. Maybe Voldemort did not lose the wand, it was just broken.

We know from Book 2(Ron's wand) and Book 7(Harry's wand) that even broken wands can still do magic. In Book 2, Ron's wand becomes very unpredictable and seems to backfire on attempting complex spells(like Memory charms). In Book 7, Harry's wand breaks apart(but not completely) when he attempts a spell.

From the books, we know that Harry's wand "overpowered" and "beat" and "destroyed" the borrowed wand, but we do not have any proof that Voldemort was "disarmed" and left wandless. And being magically powerful, perhaps Voldemort could do slightly better magic with a broken wand than Ron and Harry. So he could keep flying for some amount of time that way. Also, he probably gets Selwyn's wand within minutes.


Wands are not needed for any spell, if the wizard is gifted enough.

J.K. Rowling explained in a tweet that wands and brooms are both tools that channel magic, and sufficiently gifted wizards would not need either of them. This further implies that the magic needed to fly without a broom would not need to be done with a wand, as long as the wizard is skilled enough in magic. Voldemort would not have needed a wand to stay airborne if he was sufficiently gifted. Voldemort’s ability to fly without a broom already proves he is skilled enough to not require one tool to channel his magic - it is not difficult to think he may then not require the other as well.

@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

Additionally, when J.K. Rowling was asked if there are many wizards at Hogwarts who can do magic and fly without wands or brooms, she says wands are a cultural tradition and broomless flight is risky. However, she does not say that flight without either a wand or broom would be impossible.

@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

There does not seem to be any branch of magic that is impossible to perform without a wand. Certain types of magic are more difficult to perform wandlessly than using a wand, but none are ever said to be impossible without one.

The Native American wizarding community was particularly gifted in animal and plant magic, its potions in particular being of a sophistication beyond much that was known in Europe. The most glaring difference between magic practised by Native Americans and the wizards of Europe was the absence of a wand.

The magic wand originated in Europe. Wands channel magic so as to make its effects both more precise and more powerful, although it is generally held to be a mark of the very greatest witches and wizards that they have also been able to produce wandless magic of a very high quality. As the Native American Animagi and potion-makers demonstrated, wandless magic can attain great complexity, but Charms and Transfiguration are very difficult without one.
- Fourteenth Century – Seventeenth Century (WizardingWorld.com)

African wizards have been doing magic without wands for centuries, and much (perhaps all) magic originated there.

Much (some would say all) magic originated in Africa, and Uagadou graduates are especially well versed in Astronomy, Alchemy and Self-Transfiguration.

The wand is a European invention, and while African witches and wizards have adopted it as a useful tool in the last century, many spells are cast simply by pointing the finger or through hand gestures. This gives Uagadou students a sturdy line of defence when accused of breaking the International Statute of Secrecy (‘I was only waving, I never meant his chin to fall off’).
- Uagadou (WizardingWorld.com)

Therefore, there is no reason to believe that flying without a broom or a wand would be impossible, and Voldemort seems to be sufficiently skilled that he could successfully do it.

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