The first flying lesson

Madam Hooch take the first years for their first flying lesson, but things don't go quite as planned...

Extract from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

By J.K. Rowling

At three-thirty that afternoon, Harry, Ron and the other Gryffindors hurried down the front steps into the grounds for their first flying lesson. It was a clear, breezy day and the grass rippled under their feet as they marched down the sloping lawns towards a smooth lawn on the opposite side of the grounds to the Forbidden Forest, whose trees were swaying darkly in the distance.

The Slytherins were already there, and so were twenty broomsticks lying in neat lines on the ground. Harry had heard Fred and George Weasley complain about the school brooms, saying that some of them started to vibrate if you flew too high, or always flew slightly to the left.

Their teacher, Madam Hooch, arrived. She had short, grey hair and yellow eyes like a hawk.

‘Well, what are you all waiting for?’ she barked. ‘Everyone stand by a broomstick. Come on, hurry up.’

Harry glanced down at his broom. It was old and some of the twigs stuck out at odd angles.

‘Stick out your right hand over your broom,’ called Madam Hooch at the front, ‘and say, “Up!”’

‘UP!’ everyone shouted.

Harry’s broom jumped into his hand at once, but it was one of the few that did. Hermione Granger’s had simply rolled over on the ground and Neville’s hadn’t moved at all. Perhaps brooms, like horses, could tell when you were afraid, thought Harry; there was a quaver in Neville’s voice that said only too clearly that he wanted to keep his feet on the ground.

Madam Hooch then showed them how to mount their brooms without sliding off the end, and walked up and down the rows, correcting their grips. Harry and Ron were delighted when she told Malfoy he’d been doing it wrong for years.

‘Now, when I blow my whistle, you kick off from the ground, hard,’ said Madam Hooch. ‘Keep your brooms steady, rise a few feet and then come straight back down by leaning forwards slightly. On my whistle – three – two –’

But Neville, nervous and jumpy and frightened of being left on the ground, pushed off hard before the whistle had touched Madam Hooch’s lips.

‘Come back, boy!’ she shouted, but Neville was rising straight up like a cork shot out of a bottle – twelve feet – twenty feet. Harry saw his scared white face look down at the ground falling away, saw him gasp, slip sideways off the broom and –

WHAM – a thud and a nasty crack and Neville lay, face down, on the grass in a heap. His broomstick was still rising higher and higher and started to drift lazily towards the Forbidden Forest and out of sight.

Madam Hooch was bending over Neville, her face as white as his.

‘Broken wrist,’ Harry heard her mutter. ‘Come on, boy – it’s all right, up you get.’

She turned to the rest of the class.

‘None of you is to move while I take this boy to the hospital wing! You leave those brooms where they are or you’ll be out of Hogwarts before you can say “Quidditch”. Come on, dear.’

Neville, his face tear-streaked, clutching his wrist, hobbled off with Madam Hooch, who had her arm around him.


Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

By J.K. Rowling