ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The History of Kite Flying

Updated on April 24, 2009

Kites originated in China in the remote past, probably before 1000 B.C., and they are widely flown in the East and the Pacific. In Europe, though the Greeks and Romans had something of the kind, and though dragon-shaped kites appear to have been known and flown in the fifteenth century, it seems that they were only popularized in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by direct Chinese influence by way of Holland, when East and West came into a closer relationship.

In England, kites were pictured in John Bate's Mysteries of Art and Nature in 1635. Their English name (not found in print until the seventeenth century) they owe to the kite, with its peculiar forked tail and soaring flight, which was one of the most familiar of British birds, although now almost extinct. The Italians call them aquiloni (large eagles) and in Germany the kite is drachen, or 'dragon'. The kite indeed has been made in many forms - from bird shapes and dragon shapes, elaborately painted and articulated, to the simplest lozenge or triangle. In the East the kite has been more than a toy of elegance and fascination. It was in demand for magical purposes, to fend off evil spirits. Flutes and whistles and reeds were attached to make sound kites or musical kites; a Chinese general of the Han dynasty (202 B.C.- A.D. 220) is said to have flown such kites above his enemies in the darkness. They believed their guardian angels were warning them of danger, and fled. Evil has been transferred to kites, which were then released, by the Koreans and others; and in Siam kites were flown in a yearly festival to call up the right northerly wind which would clear the skies and the weather and dry the ground to make it ready for sowing.

In Europe kite-flying continued to be no more than a game until the eighteenth century, when kites were first employed in meteorology. In 1749 Alexander Wilson and Thomas Melville used the kite to lift thermometers into the air. Three years later, in 1752, Benjamin Franklin made famous use of the kite in his investigations of lightning and electricity. In 1804 the kite took on a more important role: as a simple form of aeroplane in which the surface is inclined to the wind and sustained against the pull of the string, it helped to solve the problems of flight. Sir George Cayley (1773-1857), the aeroplane pioneer, realized its aeronautical nature and constructed the first successful model glider by fixing a kite to one end of a pole, and a tail-plane and fin to the other. Thus the Chinese magical dragon and toy may be called the first true ancestor of the aeroplane.

Kites and aeroplanes have still another link. In Australia in 1893 the scientist Lawrence Hargrave invented the biplane box-kite, a highly stable type which led to an even greater use for kites both as toy and scientific instrument. The box-kite and the biplane glider built by the Wright brothers, combined to dictate the form of the earliest European aeroplanes between 1905 and 1908.

Comments

Submit a Comment

No comments yet.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)