People have been flying Kites for pleasure and other purposes for over two thousand years.
An Environment Friendly Sport
Kiting is arguably one of the most environmental friendly families of sport due to a number of reasons:
- The equipment is simple and little or no greenhouse gases are released during the making of the equipment and kite.
- The equipment is small enough that one can walk with them, use a bicycle trailer to bring them to the beaches, get on a bus or car pool with them.
- Except for wind power, there is absolutely no other power source needed (tow-boat, skidoo, jet-ski, helicopter, plane, etc.) to practice the sport
- Kite sports do not pollute the environment like boat, jet-ski or skidoo do.
So once the equipment is made, there is no extra energy needed in the the life time of the equipment. Kites can have a life of 5 years, while the equipment can last upto 10 years.
Furthermore, the practice of kite sports can lead to the promotion of the following environmental friendly activities:
- Kites can be used in the shipping industry to reduce oil and gas consumption
- Kites also can be use for land transportation especially in the snow country expeditions.
- The more we practice kiting, the more we understand the potential of the power zone, the kite dynamics and can use that knowledge to create better kite power generator.
What Can a Kiter Do to Help Environment
Here are some tips for eco-friendly kiting:
Minimize driving to kite in good kiting locations. If they are close enough, walk with your gear. If they are too far to walk, get a used bicycle trailer (the standard one used to carry kids is fine) to tow gear to the beach. For those who live too far to cycle, buses or car pools are a good option.
Did You Know?
- In China, during the Han dynasty around 200 BC, an army general used a kite to calculate the distance that a secret tunnel needed to be dug in order to allow soldiers to enter a besieged palace.
- The first recorded writing about kite flying in China dates from about 960 AD, but folklore evidence points to the practice many centuries earlier than this.
- Chinese battle Kites were made of bamboo and used to hum and shriek in the wind to scare the enemy.
- Anecdotal evidence suggests that the Chinese and Japanese developed large Kites capable of carrying a person in the air so he could spy or act as a sniper using bows and arrows.
- Italian explorer Marco Polo returned from his travels in China in 1295 AD, and introduced kite flying to Europe.
- In the Solomon Islands, Kites are used as a fishing aid.
- Koreans use Kites to announce the birth of a child.
- The Japanese make Kites in the shape of a carp fish, and believe that they are the symbol of strength and strong will that overcomes great obstacles to achieve desired goals.
How Do Kites Fly?
Kites are heavier-than-air devices, which means they weigh more than the volume of the air they displace. For a kite to fly, the air lift potential must be greater than the weight of the kite. In simple terms, that if the weight of the kite (or the force with which it pushes downwards) is the same as the downward and upward force of the air -- the sum of all the forces will be zero and the kite will stay where it is, going neither up nor down. For the Kite to fly higher, the weight of the Kite has to be lesser than the upward and downward force of air. If the downward force is less than the weight of the kite, the upward force will be less and the kite will quickly come crashing to the ground.
These basic principles help in learning to fly Kites, as well as in learning to make them. The tail of a kite adds to its stability and balance. It also acts as a drag and for some kites will put a limit on the maximum altitude that can be reached by a particular kite.
Kites and Science
Scientists have used kites to aid their researches. In 1749, the Scottish weather observer Alexander Smith attached thermometers to kites in order to measure air temperatures at different levels of altitude. The most famous instance of scientific discovery using Kites occurred in 1752 when Benjamin Franklin in the USA flew a kite, dangerously, to show a similarity between static electricity and lightning.
Kites in Different Cultures
Kites have been used in a variety of ways by different cultures, in different eras. Different myths tell the story of how the first Kite was made. The Chinese myth of The Bamboo Hat and the Wind is one of them.
Once, a farmer was working in his field, his head was protected by a light bamboo hat tied to his neck with a piece of string. A strong gust of wind blew his hat into the air. He caught hold of the string but the light hat eluded his grasp. He eventually got his hat back, and realized that the whole experience had been a lot of fun. So he made the first kite from a broad leaf.
Modern kites are hi-tech kites built with power and used for stunts and entertainment. Some of the popular stunts are 360, Axel, Backflip, Cartwheel, Cuckoo clock, Black hole, Helicopter, Walking, Pancake , Stall, Yoyo. Power kites provide a different form of entertainment.
There are many types of kites --
- Ultralights are amazingly light and need very little wind to fly. Inexperienced fliers are not advised to learn on these kites are they are too light to handle.
- Quadline Kites are characterized by speed, direction and pull. You can control its speed and make it move backward and forward.
- Airfoils kites are graceful wind-inflated kites.
- Flexifoils hold the World Speed Record of 120-MPS. Flexifoils are very physical kites to fly.
- Diamond Kites are easy to fly as they adjust automatically to gentle or fresh winds.
Buggying, kite sailing and kite jumping are popular Power Kite sports. It is a dangerous sport, but in danger lies its appeal.
Kite Festivals Across the World
From ancient times kite flying festivals have taken place in Asia. In some regions, these are part of their culture or religion. For example, in a part of Thailand, peasant farmers fly kites before the monsoon to ask their gods for a trouble-free farming season. In Rajasthan,Gujarat and many other parts of North India, kites are flown on MakarSankranti on 14th January, a festival celebrated when winter is coming to an end. The Japanese have a special day for flying kites, May 5th, which is also observed as Children's Day.
Today, Kite festivals are a major source of tourism revenues, and many countries like China, Thailand, Korea, Japan and Malaysia celebrate annual kite festivals as part of their tourist calendars.