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Kite Flying Through History

April 11, 2014

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Kite flying is more popular than you think. April is national kite month, when more than 700 kite events are expected to take place around the world. The Old Farmer’s Almanac Monthly April edition takes us back to when kite flying first started.

Kite Flying Through History

  • Kite flying may have originated in Asia. Legend has it that the first kite was flown centuries ago by a Chinese farmer who tied a string to his hat to keep it from going aloft.
  • Valid meteorological experiments with kites date back to June 1752, a decade before Franklin’s adventure.
  • In 1822, a teacher in England names George Pocock attached a carriage to two kites that, when aloft, pulled the vehicle at speeds of up to 20 mph. Some of his kite trips covered 100 miles.
  • The box kite was invented in 1893 by an Australian named Lawrence Hargrave. This kite does not need a tail like the diamond kite does, since there’s an axial alignment to restrain it from yawing and losing its wind.
  • At the turn of the 20th century, American illustrator Charles Dana Gibson drew an image titled “Summer Sports” in which what appear to be kites being flown by women are in fact tiny men on strings.
  • In 1907, at his home near Baddeck, Nova Scotia, Alexander Graham Bell formed a team that built a kite aircraft composed of several thousand tetrahedral (four-sided pyramidal) cells. Named Cygnet I, it was ridden on December 6 to a height of 168 feet and for a duration of 7 minutes by U.S. Army Lt. Thomas Selfridge, on his first flight.

For more on kites, you can purchase the April edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac Monthly .

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