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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Yokaichi Giant Kite Festival held on the fourth Sunday every May in Higashiomi, Shiga, Japan
A man flying a kite on the beach, a good location for flying as winds travelling across the sea contain few up or down draughts which cause kites to fly erratically.

A kite is a flying tethered aircraft that depends upon the tension of a tethering system.[1] The necessary lift that makes the kite wing fly is generated when air (or in some cases water)[2][3][4] flows over and under the kite's wing, producing low pressure above the wing and high pressure below it. This deflection also generates horizontal drag along the direction of the wind. The resultant force vector from the lift and drag force components is opposed by the tension of the one or more lines or tethers.[5] The anchor point of the kite line may be static or moving (e.g., the towing of a kite by a running person, boat,[6] or vehicle).[7][8]

Kites are usually heavier-than-air, but there is a second category of lighter-than-air kite called a kytoon which may be filled with hydrogen, hot air, methane, or helium; these stay aloft with or without wind; at calm they float; at wind they receive lift from buoyancy and aerodynamic lift. Kytoons were develop strongly by Domina Jalbert. Kytoons have been made in toy-scale as well as military large scale.[9][10]

Kites may be flown for recreation, art or other practical uses. Sport kites can be flown in aerial ballet, sometimes as part of a competition. Power kites are multi-line steerable kites designed to generate large forces which can be used to power activities such as kite surfing, kite landboarding, kite buggying and a new trend snow kiting. Kites towed behind boats can lift passengers[11] which has had useful military applications in the past.[12]



Woodcut print of a kite from John Bate's 1635 book, The Mysteryes of Nature and Art in which the kite is titled How to make fire Drakes. The caption is from the its reprint in Joseph Strutt's 1801 book, The sports and pastimes of the people of England from the earliest period.

Kites were used approximately 2,800 years ago in China[13], where materials ideal for kite building were readily available: silk fabric for sail material, fine, high-tensile-strength silk for flying line, and resilient bamboo for a strong, lightweight framework. Alternatively, the kite authors Clive Hart and Tal Streeter hold that leaf kites existed far before that time in what is now Indonesia, based on their interpretation of cave paintings on Muna Island off Sulawesi.[14] The kite was said to be the invention of the famous 5th century BC Chinese philosophers Mozi and Lu Ban. By at least 549 AD paper kites were being flown, as it was recorded in that year a paper kite was used as a message for a rescue mission.[15] Ancient and medieval Chinese sources list other uses of kites for measuring distances, testing the wind, lifting men, signaling, and communication for military operations.[15] The earliest known Chinese kites were flat (not bowed) and often rectangular. Later, tailless kites incorporated a stabilizing bowline. Kites were decorated with mythological motifs and legendary figures; some were fitted with strings and whistles to make musical sounds while flying.[16]

One ancient design, the fighter kite, became popular throughout Asia. Most variations, including the fighter kites of India, Thailand and Japan, are small, flat, rough, diamond-shaped kites made of paper, with a tapered bamboo spine and a balanced bow. Although the rules of kite fighting varied from culture to culture, the basic strategy was to maneuver the swift kite in such a way as to cut the opponent's flying line.[16].

Rider with kite in Konrad Kyeser's technical treatise Bellifortis (ca. 1405)

In Europe unambiguous drawings of kites first appeared in print in the Netherlands and England in the 17th century, pennon-type kites that evolved from military banners dating back to Roman times and earlier were flown during the Middle Ages.[16] Joseph Needham says that the earliest European description of a kite comes from the Magia Naturalis written in 1589 by the Italian polymath Giambattista della Porta (1535–1615).[17]

Hang gliders are based on the Rogallo wing, originally marketed as a mylar self-inflating kite named the Flexikite.

In 1750, Benjamin Franklin published a proposal for an experiment to prove that lightning is electricity by flying a kite in a storm that appeared capable of becoming a lightning storm. Benjamin Franklin wisely never performed his experiment, but on May 10, 1752, Thomas-François Dalibard of France conducted Franklin's experiment (using a 40-foot (12 m)-tall iron rod instead of a kite) and extracted electrical sparks from a cloud.[18][19]

The period from 1860 to about 1910 became the "golden age of kiting". Kites started to be used for scientific purposes, especially in meteorology, aeronautics, wireless communications and photography; reliable manned kites were developed as well as power kites. Invention of powered airplane diminished interest in kites.World War II saw a limited use of kites for military purposes (see Focke Achgelis Fa 330 for example). Since then they are used mainly for recreation.


Art kites at a German kite festival
Sparless Styrofoam kites
Octopus kite at Clovis, New Mexico kite festival.

Kites typically consist of one or more spars to which a paper or fabric sail is attached, although some, such as foil kites, have no spars at all. Classic kites use bamboo, rattan or some other strong but flexible wood for the spars, paper or light fabrics such as silk for the sails, and are flown on string or twine. Modern kites use synthetic materials, such as ripstop nylon or more exotic fabrics for the sails, fibreglass or carbon fibre for the spars and dacron or dyneema for the kite lines.

Kites can be designed with many different shapes, forms, and sizes. They can take the form of flat geometric designs, boxes and other three-dimensional forms, or modern sparless inflatable designs. Kites flown by children are often simple geometric forms (for example, the diamond). In Asia, children fly dried symmetrical leaves on sewing thread and sled-style kites made from sheets of folded writing paper.[13]

Designs often emulate flying insects, birds, and other beasts, both real and mythical. The finest Chinese kites are made from split bamboo (usually golden bamboo), covered with silk, and hand painted. On larger kites, clever hinges and latches allow the kite to be disassembled and compactly folded for storage or transport. Cheaper mass-produced kites are often made from printed polyester rather than silk.

Tails are used for some single-line kite designs to keep the kite's nose pointing into the wind. Spinners and spinsocks can be attached to the flying line for visual effect. There are rotating wind socks which spin like a turbine. On large display kites these tails, spinners and spinsocks can be 50 feet (15m) long or more.

Modern acrobatic kites use two or four lines to allow fine control of the kite's angle to the wind. Traction kites may have an additional line to de-power the kite and quick-release mechanisms to disengage flyer and kite in an emergency..

Practical uses

Chinese dragon kite more than one hundred feet long which flew in the annual Berkeley, California, kite festival in 2000. It is a kite-train of hundreds of linked circles with outriggers ending in feathers for balance. The dragon's head is a bamboo frame with painted silk covering.
A quad-line traction kite, commonly used as a power source for kite surfing

Military applications

Kites have been used for military uses in the past for signaling, for delivery of munitions, and for observation, by lifting an observer above the field of battle, and by using kite aerial photography.

According to Samguk Sagi, in 637, Kim Yu-sin, a Korean general of Silla rallied his troops to defeat rebels by lofting a kite with a straw man which looked like a burning ball flying to the sky.[20]

Russian chronicles mention prince Oleg of Novgorod use kites during the siege of Constantinople in 906 A.D.:"and he crafted horses and men of paper, armed and gilded, and lifted them into the air over the city; the Greeks saw them and feared".

Kites were also used by Admiral Yi of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) of Korea. During the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592-1598), Admiral Yi commanded his navy with kites. His kites had specific markings directing his fleet to perform his order.[21] The war eventually resulted in a Korean victory; the kites played a minor role in the war's conclusion.

In more modern times the British navy also used kites to haul human lookouts high into the air to see over the horizon and possibly the enemy ships, for example with the kite developed by Samuel Franklin Cody.[22] Barrage kites were used to protect London as well as the Pacific coast of the United States during the last century.[23][24] Kites and kytoons were used for lofting communications antenna.[25] Submarines lofted observers in rotary kites.[26] The Rogallo parawing kite[27] and the Jalbert parafoil kite were used for governable parachutes (free-flying kites) to deliver troops and supplies.[28]

Science and meteorology

Kites have been used for scientific purposes, such as Benjamin Franklin's famous experiment proving that lightning is electricity. Kites were the precursors to the traditional aircraft, and were instrumental in the development of early flying craft. Alexander Graham Bell experimented with very large man-lifting kites, as did the Wright brothers and Lawrence Hargrave. Kites had a historical role in lifting scientific instruments to measure atmospheric conditions for weather forecasting.

Radio aerials and light beacons

Kites can be used for radio purposes, by kites carrying antennas for MF, LF or VLF-transmitters. This method was used for the reception station of the first transatlantic transmission by Marconi. Captive balloons may be more convenient for such experiments, because kite-carried antennas require a lot of wind, which may be not always possible with heavy equipment and a ground conductor. It must be taken into account during experiments, that a conductor carried by a kite can lead to a high voltage toward ground, which can endanger people and equipment, if suitable precautions (grounding through resistors or a parallel resonant-circuit tuned to transmission frequency) are not taken.

Kites can be used to carry light effects such as lightsticks or battery powered lights.

Kite traction

Kites can be used to pull people and vehicles downwind. Efficient foil-type kites such as power kites can also be used to sail upwind under the same principles as used by other sailing craft, provided that lateral forces on the ground or in the water are redirected as with the keels, center boards, wheels and ice blades of traditional sailing craft. In the last two decades several kite sailing sports have become popular, such as kite buggying, kite landboarding and kite surfing. Snow kiting has also become popular in recent years.

Kite sailing opens several possibilities not available in traditional sailing:

  • Wind speeds are greater at higher altitudes
  • Kites may be manoeuvered dynamically which increases the force available dramatically
  • There is no need for mechanical structures to withstand bending forces; vehicles or hulls can be very light or dispensed with all together

The German company SkySails has developed ship-pulling kites as a supplemental power source for cargo ships, first tested in January 2008 on the ship MS Beluga Skysails.[29] Trials on this 55 m ship have shown that, in favorable winds, the kite reduces fuel consumption by up to 30%. This system is planned to be in full commercial production late 2008.[30] Kites are available as an auxiliary sail or emergency spinnaker for sailing boats. Self-launching Parafoil kites are attached to the mast.[citation needed]

MS Beluga Skysails is the world's first commercial container cargo ship partially powered by a giant computer-controlled kite (160 m² or 1,722 sq ft). The kite could reduce fuel consumption by 20%. It was launched on 17 December 2007 and was set to leave the northern German port of Bremerhaven to Guanta, Venezuela on January 22, 2008. Stephan Wrage, managing director of SkySails GmbH announced: "During the next few months we will finally be able to prove that our technology works in practice and significantly reduces fuel consumption and emissions." Verena Frank, project manager at Beluga Shipping GmbH, SkySails GmbH's partner further stated that "the project's core concept was using wind energy as auxiliary propulsion power and using wind as a free of charge energy".[31]

Power generation

A conceptual research and development project by Makani Power, based in California and funded by, is investigating the use of kites in harnessing high altitude wind currents to generate electricity.[32]

A separate Delft University of Technology project has used a 10 kite to generate 10 kilowatts of power.[33]

See also laddermill.

At the KULeuven, there also is a research group investigating the use of kites for power generation. But rather than kites, they use a rigid wing structure, like a plane, because of the higher gliding number and better understanding of plane dynamics. A small prototype is being built.


  • Pogadaev, Victor. Svetly Mesyatz-Zmei Kruzhitsa (My Lord Moon Kite) - “Vostochnaya Kollektsia” (Oriental Collection). M.: Russian State Library. N 4 (38), 2009, 129-134. ISSN 1681—7559


  1. ^ Beginner's Guide to Aeronautics, NASA
  2. ^ Underwater kiting
  3. ^ Hydro kite angling device Jason C. Hubbart.
  4. ^ Underwater kite F. G. Morrill.
  5. ^ Flying High, Down Under When the kite line broke, the kites still received tension from the very long kite line.
  6. ^ Science in the Field: Ben Balsley, CIRES Scientist in the Field Gathering atmospheric dynamics data using kites. Kites are anchored to boats on Amazon River employed to sample levels of certain gases in the air.
  7. ^ The Bachstelze Article describes the Fa-330 Rotary Wing Kite towed by its mooring to the submarine. The kite was a man-lifter modeled after the autogyro principle.
  8. ^ Kite Fashions: Above, Below, Sideways. Expert kiter sometimes ties a flying kite to a tree to have the kite fly for days on end.
  9. ^ Domina Jalbert
  10. ^ Helikites
  11. ^ Deep In the Heart of Texas by Dave Broyles Boat kiting
  12. ^ Focke-Achgelis Fa 330A-1 Bachsteltze (Water Wagtail) Kite is preserved in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
  13. ^ a b Fadul, J. (2009). Kites in History, in Teaching, and in Therapy. Lulu Press. ISBN 978-0-557-08589-7
  14. ^ Drachen Foundation Journal Fall 2002, page 18. Two lines of evidence: analysis of leaf kiting and some cave drawings
  15. ^ a b Needham, Volume 4, Part 1, 127.
  16. ^ a b c Encyclopedia Britannica Retrieved March 29, 2007, from Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
  17. ^ Needham, Joseph. (1986). Science and Civilization in China: Volume 4, Part 2, Mechanical Engineering. Taipei: Caves Books, Ltd. Page 580.
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ "연 鳶 (Yeon)" (in Korean). Nate / Encyclopedia of Korean Culture. Retrieved July 30, 2009. "우리 나라에서는 ≪삼국사기≫ 열전(列傳) 김유신조(金庾信條)에, 진덕왕 즉위 1년에 대신 비담(毗曇)과 염종(廉宗)의 반란이 일어났을 때 월성(月城)에 큰 별이 떨어지므로 왕이 크게 두려워하자 김유신이 허수아비를 만들어 연에 달아 띄우니 불덩이가 하늘에 올라가는 듯하였다는 기사가 처음으로 나온다. 이로 볼 때 이 시기에는 이미 연이 일반화되어 있었으며, 또한 놀이로서의 도구뿐만 아니라 전쟁의 도구로도 사용되었음을 알 수 있다." 
  21. ^ "신호연신호 개요 (Summary of sending a signal with a kite)" (in Korean). Korea Culture & Contents Agency. Retrieved July 30, 2009. "특히, 조선시대 임진왜란 때에는 충무공 이순신 장군이 충무공전술비연을 제작하여 섬과 섬, 섬과 육지 등을 서로 연락하는 통신수단 및 작전을 지시하는 전술신호와 암호 수단으로 사용한 예" 
  22. ^ Cody kites
  23. ^ Kites On The Winds of War By M. Robinson
  24. ^ Barrage Kite
  25. ^ World Kite Museum
  26. ^ Focke Achgelis Fa 330
  27. ^ The Parachute Manual: A Technical Treatise on Aerodynamic Decelerators By Dan Poynter
  28. ^ Army Aims for More Precise Ways to Drop Troops, Cargo
  29. ^ Andrew Revkin. "It's a freighter, it's a sailboat - no it's both". 
  30. ^ Skysail ship pulling system
  31. ^ BBC NEWS, Kite to pull ship across Atlantic
  32. ^ Makani Power website
  33. ^ Alok Jha (2008-08-03). "Giant kites to tap power of the high wind". The Observer. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

KITE,' the Falco milvus of Linnaeus and Milvus ictinus of modern ornithologists, once probably the most familiar bird of prey in Great Britain, and now one of the rarest. Three or four hundred years ago foreigners were struck with its abundance in the streets of London. It was doubtless the scavenger in ordinary of that and other large towns (as kindred species now are in Eastern lands), except where its place was taken by the raven; for Sir Thomas Browne (c. 1662) wrote of the latter at Norwich- " in good plentie about the citty which makes so few kites to be seen hereabout." John Wolley has well remarked of the modern Londoners that few " who see the paper toys hovering over the parks in fine days of summer, have any idea that the bird from which they derive their name used to float all day in hot weather high over the heads of their ancestors." Even at the beginning of the 19th century the kite formed a feature of many 1 In O.E. is cyta; no related word appears in cognate languages. Glede, cognate with " glide," is also another English name.

a rural landscape in England, as they had done in the days when the poet Cowper wrote of them. But an evil time soon came upon the species. It must have been always hated by the henwife, but the resources of civilization in the shape of the gun and the gin were denied to her. They were, however, employed with fatal zeal by the gamekeeper; for the kite, which had long afforded the supremest sport to the falconer, was now left friendless," 1 and in a very few years it seems to have been exterminated throughout the greater part of England, certain woods in the Western Midlands, as well as Wales, excepted. In these latter a small remnant still exists; but the well-wishers of this beautiful species are naturally chary of giving information that might lead to its further persecution. In Scotland there is no reason to suppose that its numbers suffered much diminution until about 1835, or even later, when the systematic destruction of "vermin" on so many moors was begun. In Scotland, however, it is now as much restricted to certain districts as in England or Wales, and those districts it would be most inexpedient to indicate.

The kite is, according to its sex, from 25 to 27 in. in length, about one half of which is made up by its deeply forked tail, capable of great expansion, and therefore a powerful rudder, enabling the bird while soaring on its wide wings, more than 5 ft. in extent, to direct its circling course with scarcely a movement that is apparent to the spectator below. Its general colour is pale reddish-brown or cinnamon, the head being greyish-white, but almost each feather has the shaft dark. The tail feathers are broad, of a light red, barred with deep brown, and furnish the salmon fisher with one of the choicest materials of his "flies." The nest, nearly always built in the crotch of a large tree, is formed of sticks intermixed with many strange substances collected as chance may offer, but among them rags 2 seem always to have a place. The eggs, three or four in number, are of a dull white, spotted and blotched with several shades of brown, and often lilac. It is especially mentioned by old authors that in Great Britain the kite was resident throughout the year; whereas on the Continent it is one of the most regular and marked migrants, stretching its wings towards the south in autumn, wintering in Africa, and returning in spring to the land of its birth.

There is a second European species, not distantly related, the Milvus migrans or M. ater of most authors, 3 smaller in size, with a general dull blackish-brown plumage and a less forked tail. In some districts this is much commoner than the red kite, and on one occasion it has appeared in England. Its habits are very like those of the species already described, but it seems to be more addicted to fishing. Nearly allied to this black kite are the M. aegyptius of Africa, the M. govinda (the common pariah kite 1 George, third earl of Orford, died in 1791, and Colonel Thornton, who with him had been the latest follower of this highest branch of the art of falconry, broke up his hawking establishment not many years after. There is no evidence that the pursuit of the kite was in England or any other country reserved to kings or privileged persons, but the taking of it was quite beyond the powers of the ordinary trained falcons, and in older days practically became limited to those of the sovereign. Hence the kite had attached to it, especially in France, the epithet of " royal," which has still survived in the specific appellation of regalis applied to it by many ornithologists. The scandalous work of Sir Antony Weldon (Court and Character of King James, p. 104) bears witness to the excellence of the kite as a quarry in an amusing story of the " British Solomon," whose master-falconer, Sir Thomas Monson, being determined to outdo the performance of the French king's falconer, who, when sent to England to show sport, " could not kill one kite, ours being more magnanimous than the French kite," at last succeeded, after an outlay of f1000, in getting a cast of hawks that took nine kites running - " never missed one." On the strength of this, James was induced to witness a flight at Royston, " but the kite went to such a mountee as all the field lost sight of kite and hawke and all, and neither kite nor hawke were either seen or heard of to this present." Thus justifying the advice of Shakespeare's Autolycus (Winter's Tale, iv. 3) - " When the kite builds, look to lesser linen " - very necessary in the case of the laundresses in olden time, when the bird commonly frequented their drying-grounds.

3 Dr R. Bowdler Sharpe (Cat. Birds Brit. Mus. i. 322) calls it M. korschun, but the figure of S. G. Gmelin's Accipiter Korschun, whence the name is taken, unquestionably represents the moorbuzzard (Circus aeruginosus). of India),' the M. melanotis of Eastern Asia, and the M. affinis and M. isurus; the last is by some authors removed to another genus or sub-genus as Lophoictinia, and is peculiar to Australia, while M. affinis also occurs in Ceylon, Burma, and some of the Malay countries as well. All these may be considered true kites, while those next to be mentioned are more aberrant forms. First there is Elanus, the type of which is E. caeruleus, a beautiful little bird, the black-winged kite of English authors, that comes to the south of Europe from Africa, and has several congeners - E. axillaris and E. scriptus of Australia being most worthy of notice. An extreme development of this form is found in the African Nauclerus riocourii, as well as in Elanoides furcatus, the swallowtailed kite, a widely-ranging bird in America, and remarkable for its length of wing and tail, which gives it a marvellous power of flight, and serves to explain the unquestionable fact of its having twice appeared in Great Britain. To Elanus also Ictinia, another American form, is allied, though perhaps more remotely, and it is represented by I. mississippiensis, the Mississippi kite, which is by some considered to be but the northern race of the Neotropical I. plumbea. Gampsonyx, Rostrhamus and Cymindis, all belonging to the Neotropical region, complete the series of forms that seem to compose the sub-family Milvinae, though there may be doubt about the last, and some systematists would thereto add the perns or honey-buzzards, Perninae. (A. N.)

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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

an unclean and keen-sighted bird of prey (Lev 11:14; Deut 14:13). The Hebrew word used, 'ayet, is rendered "vulture" in Job 28:7 in Authorized Version, "falcon" in Revised Version. It is probably the red kite (Milvus regalis), a bird of piercing sight and of soaring habits found all over Palestine.

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Simple English

A Chinese kite in flight.

A kite is a flying object that is attached to the ground by a rope, or ropes. Kites can be flown for fun, or in competitions.


The kite was created in China, about 2,800 years ago. Later it spread into other Asian countries, like (India), Japan and Korea. However, the kite only appeared in Europe by about the year 1600.

The first kites had sails made of paper or light fabrics such as silk. The poles were made from bamboo, or other strong but flexible woods, and the kite line was made from string or twine.

Modern kites are made from synthetic materials, such as ripstop nylon or more exotic fabrics on the sails. They have fiberglass or carbon fiber poles, and use dacron or dyneema for the kite lines.

Today, there are many different types of kite. Some are large and are made to look good, but some are smaller and are made for speed and competitions.

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