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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 '15 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 '15 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. – Mermish Essence Jan 29 '15 at 6:26
  • @SylvainL Go back to the chapter. Your response shows that you may not remember the sequence of events of that chapter. Of course he borrowed someone's wand. It was destroyed. Then he tried to borrow Selwyn's. – Mermish Essence Jan 29 '15 at 6:28
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(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.

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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 '15 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. – Mermish Essence Jan 29 '15 at 6:34
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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.

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