Go Fly A Kite!

Photo WG2 smallHi, Winnie Griggs here. According to my ‘National Day Of…” calendar, yesterday was National Kite Flying Day (wonder why this falls in February rather than March?). And, since I was already looking into kites for a book I’m working on, I thought the timing was great for me to share a little of what I found out.

KITE HISTORY
Exact dates are not available but the first written account found of kite flying occurred around 200 B.C. And it’s safe to say they were actually around much earlier. But would it surprise you to know that the first kites were not originally created for recreational purposes? Though most scholars believe kites originated in China there is some evidence that suggest that it might have actually originated in the South Pacific Island region—these were used as a fishing implements. The Chinese, on the other hand, developed theirs for military purposes.

In the 7th century Buddhist monks introduced kites to Japan. They were originally used there to ward off evil spirits and insure abundant harvests. But kite flying soon became popular there for recreational pleasure.

At the end of the 13th century, Marco Polo brought stories of kites to Europe. And in the 16th and 17th centuries, sailors brought kites back to Europe from a number of Asian countries. At first Europeans considered kites little more than curiosities. Then in the 18th and 19th century scientists began using them as vehicles for research – probably the most well known of these experimenters was Benjamin Franklin. But there were many others – Alexander Wilson, Sir George Caley, Lawrence Hargrave Alexander Graham Bell and the Wright brothers among them.

As flight became more commonplace, using kites for military or scientific purposes faded from popularity and recreational and competitive enthusiasts took over. Over the years, larger and more powerful kites were designed and several out-of-the-box uses were developed, such as pulling sleds and buggies over not only land but water and ice as well.

boy and kite

 

Now for some FUN FACTS

  • The smallest kite in the world that will actually fly is 5mm high (for those of us not up on the metric system, that’s approx .2 inches)
  • The longest kite in the world to fly is 1,034 meters (or 3,394 feet)
  • The greatest quantity of kites to fly on one line is 11,284
  • The record for how long a kite stayed up in one flight is 180 hours
  • The fastest recorded speed of a kite is over 120 mph
  • When building the suspension bridge over the turbulent Niagra River in 1848, the problem of establishing the first line across it was solved by a young boy who flew a kite across the chasm.
  • Kite flying is one of the fastest growing sports in the world
  • There is at least one Kite Festival every weekend year round in some part of the world.
  • Over 50 million kites are sold in the US annually
  • Kites are flown by more adults than children

So now it’s your turn.  Did any of these tidbits surprise you?  Have you ever flown a kite?  Do you have any special memories or fun stories involving kites?

Winnie Griggs
Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at www.facebook.com/WinnieGriggs.Author or email her at winnie@winniegriggs.com.
Updated: February 6, 2015 — 2:52 am

22 Comments

  1. Interesting post Winnie. But, don’t think I would want to take a chance in the wind getting me across water or ice. What if the wind stopped with me out in the middle. No way, not me. Maxie Anderson

    1. Hi Maxie! Sounds like a suitably cautious decision 🙂

  2. I love all of these facts. I haven’t flown a kite in a really long time.

    1. Hi Janine – thanks for stopping by!

  3. Very interesting about how old kite flying is!
    When I was 8 years old my dad took my siblings and I to the park to fly kites, the kites we used were homeade using black garbage bags. It was very cloudy and windy out that day. My dad helped me get the kite started and handed it off to me and soon the kite was above the clouds. The thought going through my head at the time was that an airplane was going to hit my kite and drag me away. I laugh when I think about it now. Hehe!
    Thanks Winnie for the fun facts about kites! Jenny

    1. Oh Jenny, that’s so funny. What imaginations we all had as kids!

  4. That was interesting. I’ve never flown a kite.

    1. Hi Cathy, it’s been many years since I’ve flown a kite but I can still remember the thrill when it finally catches the wind and soars upward. You really should try it at least once.

  5. I flew a kite a handful of times… once when I was a kid, I entered a contest to decorate a kite… I won for my flag drawing. 🙂

    1. Colleen, that is so cool! How old were you at the time?

      1. I think I was around ten years old…

  6. The thing that surprised me was that more adults than children fly kites/

    1. That surprised me too, anon. But after thinking bout it, I think that is probably due to the fact that it has become a competitive sport an more adults are taking part.

  7. Thanks for sharing facts on kites! Very interesting. My siblings and I often made and flew kites. We made them from paper bags, coloring them with our own designs. Some flew beautifully, some not so much but we had fun with them just the same.

    1. Hi Connie. I remember making kites too. We used both newspaper and grocery bags – as much fun making them as flying them!

  8. I love the post,,yes ive flown a kite as a kid and as a mom and now as a grandmother,my grandkids love for me to get the kites and take them to the field and go kiting,,we all love the time having fun together

    1. Vickie, how wonderful that you have such generational memories! And that you are building such fun memories for your own grandchildren!

  9. Great post, I use to fly kites all the time when I was young. We lived in the country and that was one of the cheaper toys you could get. We got 25 cents a week and we could go to the five and dime store and buy our kites.

    1. Hi QuiltLady – sounds like you have some fun memories related to kites. And 25 cents sure went a lot further in my day than it does now!

  10. What a fun post, Winnie! I have great memories of my dad taking me kite-flying. I grew up on the coast, so the wind was always coming off the ocean and kites stayed up easily. I’d love to try some of the kites they have now that are “sport” kites for doing aerial acrobatics. As long as my lines didn’t tangle (since they take more lines) I know I would love the challenge!

  11. Hi Kathryn – What fun – I say go for it!

  12. This is a neat post, so much interesting information.

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