The Origins Of Kite
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
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.