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All about Kites

Updated on September 6, 2014
ArtByLinda profile image

The author is an amateur artist and photographer that loves to travel with her husband of 37 years.

Kite Flying takes you back in time...

There is no simple pleasure that is shared with family and friends, than the simple act of flying a kite. It brings one back to a time before the world went to electronics. With the wind in your hair, your eyes to the heavens above, watching the miracle of flight, running, laughing and sharing.

Life would be more simple if more of us took time to fly Kites,wouldn't it?

If you don't feel like flying a kite, it is actually a great spectator sport too.

My favorite place to watch kite flying and windsurfing is at the Oregon Coast.

There are forces that affect the flight of a kite.

The first is gravity everything falls to the ground when dropped or thrown. The heavier the kite, the less chance of getting a good lift and getting flight. Kites should be make of very lightweight material. We made Kites when we were kids from kits. Very lightweight paper, and super light crossbars were used in their making. We tried heavier paper like new paper when the kite material was torn, they would fly but never quite as nicely as they did with the tissue paper material that came with the kit. I think the wood might have been bamboo.

So a very light kite is extremely important.

The second is lift. "Lift is the force pushing the kite away from the surface of the earth. It is produced by air moving over the top of the kite at a faster speed than the air that is moving over the bottom of the kite. Daniel Bernoulli, a scientist in the eighteenth century, discovered that the pressure of air becomes lower when it is moving. The faster the air is moving the lower the pressure becomes. A kite is shaped so that air will be slowed down if it is travelling under the lower surface of a kite and will speed up if it is travelling over the upper surface of the kite." (1)

The kite will rise to try to balance the air pressure above the kite with the air pressure below the kite.

If it is a windy day you may not have much trouble getting a kite to fly, without a whole lot of activity on your part.

On a day with no or very little wind. You may have to make your own wind. Get those legs moving. It helps to have someone to hold the kite in the air until you get a distance from it.

Drag is the third force that affects a kite, it keeps it from flying right back into the ground. (hopefully!) Drag is created by the different types of materials used, the wood, the material, and even the tail of a kite can create drag.

Thrust is created by the string we hold. In holding it tight against the wind, it creates thrust that holds that kite up in the air.

A tail on a kite can keep it from rocking from side to side. It helps to balance the movement. A long tail is great, but cutting it into sections of tail, (long strips) can create even more drag than needed.

1. Reference: Kites in the Classroom by Peter Batchelor

When were Kites first invented you ask?

They have been around a long, long time.

"Historians believe that the first kites were built in China about 3,000 years ago, using materials, such as bamboo and silk. Kites may have been brought from China to Japan and other Asian countries, historians say, as part of early religious festivals or ceremonies. In fact, the earliest significance of kites was primarily religious. They were widely considered to be useful for ensuring a good harvest or scaring away evil spirits. Throughout the years, as the popularity of kites spread from Asia to Europe and beyond, they became more widely known as children's toys and came to be used primarily as a leisure activity.

Eventually, scientists discovered that kites were also useful for conducting scientific experiments, particularly those involving weather and aerodynamics.

In the 15th century, Leonardo da Vinci discovered how to use a kite to span a river.

Leonardo da Vinci's method was later used, by 10-year-old Homan Walsh, in the construction of one of the world's first suspension bridges at Niagara Falls, New York.

In 1749, Scottish scientist Alexander Wilson used several kites, attached in a row, to measure and compare air temperature at different altitudes.

Benjamin Franklin used kites to pull boats, carriages, and sleds in experiments with traction and to experiment with electrical energy in the atmosphere.

In 1901, Gugliemo Marconi used a kite to help transmit the first trans-Atlantic wireless telegraph message." (2)

2. Education World

Types of kites -diamond wing kite

There are some basic types of kites

There is the good old flat kite. Often diamond in shape. These are kites that have no curve to them. These are probably the type of kite you may have made as a child. The do need a tail to fly well.

Delta Wing kite

There is the delta wing kite. This kite is sometimes similar to the greek letter delta in shape therefore it's name. A delta kite is lite and the sail billows and creates much of it's own drag and lift. It usually does not need a tail.

Bowed, box and para-foil kites

The bowed kite, similar to a flat kite, often diamond shaped, but are bowed. The do not always need a tail to fly either.

The box kite, like it's name, it is often box shaped with many angles and surfaces. These kites usually need a strong wind to achieve lift and thrust. They are also bowed, and do not need tails.

Para-foil Kites, are often used in para-sailing. They are normally just material and depend highly on the wind to stay in flight. The wind opens and billows the sails, keeping it floating. They are lightweight and normally do not need a tail to fly either.

A compound box kite and sled kites

A compound box kite, is much like it's relative the box kite, but it also includes wings attached the box structure. It creates a lot of pull, often requiring a harness and weight to the person flying it to hold it down.

A sled kite is of course "sled" shaped. It has several spines running the length of the kite, but no cross bars. It relies heavily on the wind to keep it in flight.

Reference used for this info and photo below: Kites in the Classroom by Peter Batchelor

Types of Kites, diagram by Peter Batchelor

Types of Kites, diagram by Peter Batchelor
Types of Kites, diagram by Peter Batchelor

Kite terminology diagram by Peter Batchelor

Kite terminology diagram by Peter Batchelor
Kite terminology diagram by Peter Batchelor

Diagram of angle of attack by Peter Batchelor

Diagram of angle of attack by Peter Batchelor
Diagram of angle of attack by Peter Batchelor

How to Fly Fixed Bridle Foil Power Kites

Kites flying in the Kite Festival in Lincoln City, Oregon - June of 2011

Kites flying in the Kite Festival in Lincoln City, Oregon

Photo © by Photographer Linda Hoxie

HQ Butterfly kite 51" Ruby
HQ Butterfly kite 51" Ruby

A very simple and yet very pretty kite.


Where to fly your kite?

Think wide open spaces....

Find a place that is a large, uncluttered space on the ground as well as above the groung. Always watch for any power lines that your kite may get tangled in.

Maybe a large park area, or a field, the best place of all to fly a kite is at the beach.

A Unique Perspective of Kites Flying on the beach - in Lincoln City Oregon at the Kite Festival in June

Photo © by Photographer Linda Hoxie

Revolution Kite team from France - 2005 - with 5 Kites - Awesome video, well worth watching!

Great kite building demo on Traditional Japenese Bowed Kite

This Kite had a super long tail and swerved like a snake through the sky - At the Lincoln City Kite Festival

Photo © by Photographer Linda Hoxie

The reason I started this adventure of a new lens on kites, is while I was planning a trip to the coast, I read about a kite festival there. Which brought back some fond memories of watching these two men flying this huge kite. One guy had to wear a harness, and the kite would literally drag him across the beach. I thought for sure he was going parasailing without a boat. I have a video of the whole adventure, but I filmed it sideways...who knew you can't rotate a video like you can a photo?


Thanks for stopping by and learning with me about kites. - Do you have a favorite memory of kite flying?

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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      The best kite instructor ever.I have all his video tapes since 1996.I see many exlntees flyers, but nobody canb4t explain the tricks like Dodd.He is somekind harismatic man.The guru of stunt kiting.Respect!

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Wonderful exnaopatiln of facts available here.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I can't believe you're not playing with meah--tt was so helpful.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Kites are great fun. They have certainly improved dramatically from when I was a kid.

    • LoriBeninger profile image


      5 years ago

      Wow! The science of kite flying in one handy lens. Nice job.

    • askformore lm profile image

      askformore lm 

      6 years ago

      Great lens! Thank you for sharing all this info about kites.

    • jmchaconne profile image


      6 years ago

      Kites are wonderful, and this is a great lens, especially for the technical information I'm writing a lens about kites, and will use this as a related lens, thank you!

    • DownToEarthLiving profile image


      6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Great article - love the history and variety of kites. We made paper kites as kids in the city and flew them at the playground! Brings back memories.

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 

      6 years ago

      I really enjoyed your Lens; I love Kites, especially Japanese Fighting Kites.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I love flying kits. We have a group of us that get together and fly.

    • KayeSI profile image


      6 years ago

      Thank you for such a wonderful kite flying resource. My grandkids and I just had so much fun flying some of the easy kites for kids that we found at the local store. Like you, that led me to do some further research. I did learn about Prism Kites and a few other fun kite facts but you have so much more. I'm sharing this on Facebook and saving the link for some fun activities for the grandkids and me. Thanks again.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks for the info . Helped me with my project

    • desa999 lm profile image

      desa999 lm 

      6 years ago

      Great coverage on a fascinating topic, thanks for sharing.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I love a good kite article, enjoyed this one, *blessed* it too!

    • dogface lm profile image

      dogface lm 

      7 years ago

      Oh wow, so much nice information. Thanks for sharing.

    • heehaw lm profile image

      heehaw lm 

      7 years ago

      i always love flying and making kites

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      7 years ago from UK

      You make me want to go fly a kite down on the beach! It would be an interesting project to build my own.

    • CashInTheHand LM profile image

      CashInTheHand LM 

      7 years ago

      Lots of interesting information, great job!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      good lens.

    • jp1978 profile image


      8 years ago

      It's sad. I never learned how to make nor fly kites.

    • hlkljgk profile image


      8 years ago from Western Mass

      wonderful lens!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Really interesting lens. Loads of info for anyone interested in kiting, and some history on kiting too! Nice!

      I have been powerkiting for about 10 years now, and really enjoy it. If you get a chance, have a look at my blog.

    • mythphile profile image

      Ellen Brundige 

      9 years ago from California

      Wow. Amazingly informative and in-depth, it really is all about kites! I learned a few things! (And lensrolled) Thanks for stopping by my little kite page! 5*

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      helow it's nice ha...

    • Wendy L Henderson profile image

      Wendy Henderson 

      10 years ago from PA

      Very nice lens. I remember flying kites with my Dad as a little girl. ~Wendy

    • Freebirth profile image


      10 years ago

      Well, this is definitely a one-stop kite resource!

    • LucyVet profile image


      10 years ago

      I love flying kites! It's a cool thing to do with kids rather than computer games / TV etc

    • LucyVet profile image


      10 years ago

      I love flying kites! It's a cool thing to do with kids rather than computer games / TV etc

    • James20 profile image


      10 years ago

      Very nice!! A lot of information here.


    • The Homeopath profile image

      The Homeopath 

      10 years ago

      What a cool lens! I LOVE flying kites with my kids, it's just so relaxing and exciting at the same time!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I loved to fly kites as a kid. Will have to get one for my 9yr old daughter. We are going to a state park Mon. for Labor Day and she will love it. Thanks for the reminder.

    • ArtByLinda profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Hoxie 

      10 years ago from Idaho

      I love this, thank you all for sharing your kite stories...such fun memories! :)

    • Shreela LM profile image

      Shreela LM 

      10 years ago

      Wow, you're the queen of kite knowledge, thanks for sharing and teaching.

      I bought myself a trick kite for my birthday one year, and me and the ex went to a slow beach to fly it. I flew it so good right away; it was such a fun day, UNTIL...

      The ex couldn't control it as good, and almost crashed the huge thing into a foreign family walking down the beach!

      I ran yelling and waving my arms trying to warn them to watch out, but they didn't speak English, and I was almost twice as big at them too. I was also yelling at the ex: let it go, LET IT GO!

      It got real close to them once -- so close the dad could hear it, and grabbed his family and ran inwards to avoid the missile-like kite.

      The ex finally let it go, the little foreign family was safe, and I swam out to retrieve my kite. I packed it up right then and there, and I flew it alone from then on.

      Those bigger trick kites can be dangerous in dull-witted men's hands! But they're excellent fun while alone, or with a smart man LOL

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Wow! Who knew there was so much information about kites? Great lens!

      Kite Flying Memory: Flying kites with my sister in Cape Cod - and TRYING to fly kites in our backyard.. yeah that time it didn't really work out :)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Incredible lense. I used to love flying kites when I was a kid. Should do it again. Nice to see you participating in the Squid Storm at

    • Roxy Calamari profile image

      Roxy Calamari 

      10 years ago

      Well done. I'll come back and read this some again.

    • Sniff It Out profile image

      Sniff It Out 

      10 years ago

      Great lens, some fantastic kites on the Washington kite festival video!

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 

      10 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      Used to fly kites with my family on the beach on trips.

    • ArtByLinda profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Hoxie 

      10 years ago from Idaho

      a willow, I think that they could, we used to make them out of newpaper! :-)

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 

      10 years ago from Croatia

      Hmmmmmm---- Kites can be made of paper bags as well, am I right? I should lensroll this to my 'How to reuse paper bags' lens! :)

    • ArtByLinda profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Hoxie 

      10 years ago from Idaho

      NightSquid, That is great, I love watching people fly them, especially the trick kites! Good luck on building one! Linda

      RedSportNiac, thank you..and me too :-) Linda

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Your lens looks great. Nice job. Keep it up and all the best. By the way I love kite myself.

    • NightSquid LM profile image

      NightSquid LM 

      10 years ago

      Hi Linda,

      Great lens, I am an amateur Trick Kite fly-er myself. I never have thought about making my own kite but now I may have to reconsider.

      I lensrolled this to my Oregon Coast Weekend Trip lens. Cheers

    • ArtByLinda profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Hoxie 

      10 years ago from Idaho

      When I was young we used to make kites out of light sticks, and newspaper (believe it or not) they actually would fly with a good wind. The tails we made of old sheets. :-)


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