"flying," c. 1500, from French volant "able to fly," from Latin volantem (nominative volans), present participle of volare "to fly," of unknown origin. French voler, literally "to fly," in 16c. acquired a sense of "to steal," via the transitive meaning "to make fly."
1590s "fine or light," also "evaporating rapidly" (c. 1600), from French volatile, from Latin volatilis "fleeting, transitory; swift, rapid; flying, winged," from past participle stem of volare "to fly" (see volant). Sense of "readily changing, flighty, fickle" is first recorded 1640s. Volatiles in Middle English meant "birds, butterflies, and other winged creatures" (c. 1300).
1570s, "discharge of a number of guns at once," from French volee "flight" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *volta, fem. noun from Latin volatum, past participle of volare "to fly" (see volant). Sporting sense of "a return of the ball before it hits the ground" (originally in tennis) is from 1851, from notion of hitting the ball in flight.