The Origins Of Kite Flying

The origin of the kite is in Asia, especially in China and Japan, and leads about 3000 years back. The first flying contraptions are mentioned in war reports, as its development was substantially driven by the art of war during the last century. Thus, they were used to intimidate the enemy by loud buzzing noise generated by crackling, or to measure distances.

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The Asians were already then able to built extremely powerful kites, which could fly high, were stable and could carry large cargo. The Chinese even transported people with kites, after they tested the feature successfully with prisoners. Later on, spies glided over the enemy's territory in order to obtain information about the exact location and size of the hostile army.

From China, the flying contraptions spread quickly across Asia, with its ceremonial and religious meaning increasing rapidly, too. For instants, people wrote the names of their children on the kite in the hope that the evil spirit would fly away with it. Shortly afterwards, they discovered another application for the dragons. In Malaysia, kites are labeled with string, hooks and bait, and let out over the water in order to catch fish.

But in addition to martial, religious and ceremonial use, a popular pastime developed. For this purpose, versatile and easy to maneuver flying contraptions were constructed, and their lines were covered with glass splinters. Two opposite teams let them fly with the aim to cut as many kite lines of the opponent.

There is one thing all Asian kites have in common: they all belong to the group of flat flying contraptions, which means they only have one surface in the shape of a diamond or square. The materials used to build a traditional kite still remain the same, as well: silk, bamboo and paper.

The first reliable reports of kites in Europe started in the 15th century. In the 17th century, they were already known as an excellent recreational toy. However, it was only in the 18th century that science began experiments in the field of meteorology. Sun contraptions were left to be up to 0.6 miles high to measure the temperature differences.

Famous were the electric kites of Benjamin Franklin (an American inventor and politician), who proved in 1752 that natural lightnings are indeed "electrical matter." He, also, let himself to be carried through a lake, by a kite, while lying on his back.

By 1800, Caley was the first ponder the aeronautical theories of flying contraptions, which certainly was the foundation for today's aircraft construction. In 1826, a vehicle was patented, which could transport four passengers faster than any horse carriage, with the help of two mounted kites in the back. In the 19th century, kites were used for signaling and sea rescue.

The first bridge over the Niagara Falls was built with the help of flying contraptions. The gorge was covered with a kite leash, and heavier cords were transported across until there was enough thick rope to construct a suspension bridge. In North America, during the second world war, an effective air defense, for protection of convoys, was developed. Soldiers hung climbing ropes from several kites, which were connected to more slack, in order to damage foreign aircrafts on the wings and propellers.

Nowadays, the use of kites is, again, limited to the leisure sector. The variations are so extensive that most certainly anyone, who has fun playing with the wind, can find his favorite flying contraption.