Kites: More Than A Hobby. In the era before video games and the smart phones summer days of childhood were often filled with flying kites. With the crush of adult responsibilities kite flying becomes a halcyon memory. We tend to forget the simple pleasure of just enjoying a kite dancing on the wind against a cloudless blue sky.

But the importance of distressing and taking our eyes off the screen, and getting some outdoor exercise, is leading some psychologists to tell patients to go fly a kite. From that perspective Tumbleweeds & Tarantulas in Bullhead City, Arizona, your one stop kite and kite supply store, is a gym, a mental health clinic, and an oasis where you can escape the daily pleasures of life.

But the history of kites has a dark side. Paul Wonning in his book entitled A Short History of Kites chronicled a story about Phra Phetracha, king of Thailand in the 17th-century. During a particularly intense battle, an engineer in his army devised a means to use kites to drop small kegs of gunpowder with a lit fuse on entrenched enemy positions.

A 12th century Korean book chronicles the exploits of one of the countries legendary generals, Gim Yu-sinIn. During a battle in approximately 600 C.E. he used a kite with a burning oil lamp tied to its tail to harness the power of superstition. A shooting star viewed as a bad omen had paralyzed troops with fear. Using the kite and lamp he was able to convince that the comet had returned, a sign of favor from the gods.

Kites: More Than A Hobby. Kites played a role in the battle at Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1863 and 1865 during the American Civil War. The kites were used for the speedy delivery of orders over enemy lines. They were also used to drop flyers on enemy lines in the hope of encouraging desertions by offering favorable terms for surrender, and money for horses. Preserved memorandums from the War Records Office include a request for thousands of feet of strong kite string and kite making materials.

Did you know that the British Admiralty once had a post designated Chief Kite Instructor? This unusual story dates to the dawn of the 20th century when prolific inventor Samuel F. Cody patented a system of using a kite to lift a man to previously unattainable heights’.

In late 1901, Cody was granted an opportunity to demonstrate the process and its potential use for military applications to the War Office. Apparently he impressed representative’s from the Admiralty as tests and trials were approved on warships through 1905.

The system was approved for use in Army observation units in 1906. Cody was commissioned as an officer with the title of Chief Kite Instructor. This new department headed by Cody was tasked with “designing and manufacturing kites, and providing instructions in their operation.”

Kites: More Than A Hobby. As evidenced by history, kites can be used for a variety of purposes. Today, however, their most important role is as a stress relief tool. And for a fortunate few, kites are an opportunity to refresh delightful childhood memories.

Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America