Well, that is different. Kites are almost universal in their appeal. In most every country on earth people associate kites with fond childhood memories. And in most countries there are also legends linked to a story about a kite. In some instances those legends are, surprisingly, rooted in fact.

Well, that is different,Captain B. F. S. Baden-Powell was a British aviation pioneer. In the closing years of the 19th century he designed, built and tested a kite he deemed the Levitor. It was envisioned to be used a kite that could lift a man who could serve as an artillery observer for the army. Use as a wireless aerial was another application. Surprisingly the system actually worked.

The first test for the hexagonal-shaped kite took place in 1894. In subsequent tests Baden-Powell managed to get a man to a height of nearly 100-feet. The British army ordered his kites to be used in the South African Boer-War but by the time the shipment arrived the war had ended. It would be WWI before the idea was revisited.

Meanwhile on the far reaches of the British empire the Australian engineer and inventor Lawrence Hargrave, lifted himself from the beach in Stanwell Park, New South Wales in 1894. He used an ingenious box kite system he had been working on since 1885. According to legend he managed to reach heights in excess of 20 feet.

Samuel Cody was a showman extraordinaire. His specialty was wild west acts such as feats of marksmanship. After learning abut Hargrave’s experiments Cody began experiments of his own. He improved upon and perfected the box kite system and purportedly used it to lift a man to a height of more than 1,200-feet!

The development of kites to lift people has along, and even dark history. In the Chinese book of Sui that is believed to date to the year 630, there is a story that Emperor Wenxuan of Northern Qi used man carrying kites as a means of execution. According to the account prisoners were ordered, or pushed from the high towers of the palace strapped to kites. The kites were bamboo mats strapped to the hands and arms.

Kites have also played a role in the development of science and technology. Before the advent of aircraft with high altitude capabilities the kite was a favored tool of meteorologists. In one instance a kite was purportedly flown to a height of nearly 32,000 feet.

Over the years kites have been used for a diverse, and often surprising array of purposes. In many parts of Asia they were pressed into service as an aid for fisherman. In the islands of the south pacific kites were used to keep birds away from crops. There are Chinese records that kites were employed to lift building materials.

Kites have also been integrated into religions and ceremonies. In Korea there was a tradition of releasing a kite after the birth of a child to remove any bad luck that had followed the child into the world. In 15th century European texts kites are linked with magicians and magic. But kites are most often associated with childhood games and sporting events. And in the modern era the ubiquitous kite and kite festivals transcend barriers of culture and language. The simple pleasures of kite flying are universal in nature.

Perhaps its time for you to discover the wonderful world of kites. At Tumbleweeds & Tarantulas kits are our specialty. Stop by today and see what you might have been missing.

Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America