You might think that the kite is just a simple toy, but it has been used for all sorts of things throughout the ages. It is said the Chinese enjoyed kite flying over 2,000 years ago. There is a written account of a Chinese general, dated 200 BC, describing how he flew a kite over the walls of a city under siege to get a measurement to insure that the tunnel his army was constructing would be able to get behind the city’s defenses and surprise them (the measurements were accurate and the city was conquered). The Buddhist monks, who used kites to ward off evil spirits and to appease the gods, have been credited with spreading the use of kites throughout Asia, Korea, Japan and India. A Korean general once removed superstition overtaking his army when he sent aloft a straw man on fire via a kite to rally his troops – they went on to win the battle. Kites were popular in Micronesia and Polynesia, where they were often used for fishing. Marco Polo is credited for bringing the kite to Europe in the 13th century. In more recent history, kites were used for experiments by Ben Franklin (electricity), Alexander Graham Bell (the telephone), and Orville and Wilbur Wright (the airplane). William Eddy and Lawrence Hargrave’s kite designs were put to use by the US Weather Bureau to send meteorological instruments into the atmosphere. During World War I, kites were instrumental in gaining information on troop movements and signaling. World War II ushered in the use of kites to prevent planes from flying too low during practice runs, and also as part of a rescue kit to help downed pilots be found. In recent decades, the kite has made a comeback for recreational use and competition. New lightweight materials have given modern kites better aerodynamics and made them lighter and more durable. So, go fly a kite! Sometimes, the best things in life are the simple things.
SharLeigh has an inquisitive nature – she is interested in current events, history, science and many more subjects, including things that go bump in the night! Since 1997, SharLeigh has scoured the internet, looking for interesting, fun and timely topics covering all sorts of human-interest subjects for her articles from her home in Fontana, CA.