Basic information about various hobby and craft topics.

Friday, February 29, 2008

History of the Kite - The Wright Brothers

In 1899 the Wright brothers designed and built a special box kite to use to test and develope their theories about controlling the flight of an aircraft. This was a biplane box kite about six feet long, fifteen inches wide and about fifteen inches tall. All the framework was hinged to allow it to twist. The kite was controlled from the ground with four strings tied to strategic places on the frame. Using this system, they developed ways to control the kites ability to bank right and left, dive and climb.

They designed and built several kites using this design, always perfecting the design and gaining more control. Using these kites as models they constructed a glider in 1900. This glider had the capacity to carry a man, but the brothers decided to test it before flying in it themselves. They did not want to suffer the same fate as Lilianthal, who died flying one of his gliders. The glider was flown like a kite at first, using the ground control system they had developed for the box kites.

All of this experimenting led, of course, to their eventual success on December 12, 1903. History of Flight and Avaition

Back To All About Kites © 2012 Hobby Hobnob

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Kite History - The Telegraph

Guglielmo Marconi used kites in his development of the wireless telegraph system. On Dec. 12, 1901 Marconi and his team used a kite constructed from a wood frame and sail cloth. It had a hemp mooring cord attached to a wooden pole. A 600 foot long was also attached to the pole, with a lead going to the radio shack in which Marconi had his receiving apparatus. The kite most probably was a Levitor kite, which was well known among kite flyers for its lifting capabilities.

The originating transmission came from a tower located near St. John's, Newfoundland. shortly after noon, after much trial and tribulation, the signal was tapped out in New Foundland and received at Marconi's kite held antennae and the era of wireless trans-Atlantic radio communications had begun.

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History of Flight and Aviation

© 2012 Hobby Hobnob

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

History of Kites - Torpedoes

Admiral Sir Arthur Cochrane during the Crimean War devised some new weapons to be used against the Russian. These included explosion vessels and stink ships, which were ships loaded with coke and sulphur which, when ignited, would emit a suffocating fog.

Another of his schemes was the use of twelve foot kites towing torpedoes into enemy ships. The method was successfully implemented in practice runs, but was found to be impractical in actual use. The reason being that prevailing winds and the location of enemy ships were not always favorable.

Back To All About Kites History of Flight and Avaition © 2012 Hobby Hobnob

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ben Franklin And His Kite

Kites have also contributed to the pioneering efforts in the scientific field of electricity. Most people have heard of Benjamin Franklin's kite experiment. The story has entered into American legend. He flew the kite during the early stages of an electric storm, when he felt that electric power was building in the clouds, but before actual lightning was produced. being produced.

He designed a kite specifically to draw electricity from the clouds which was made from silk instead of paper so it would withstand the rain without tearing. The kite had a pointed wire arising from the frame, which gathered electricity from the overhead storm clouds. As the storm wettened the kite and silk string, they were able to conduct the electricity to a key he hung near the ground. He stood inside a building so the end of silk he held did not get wet, and thus conduct the charge to him. The key became electrified, and sparked with electricity. He used the electricity to charge a Leyden Jar, which is a capacitor, which had been recently invented.

Franklin conducted many experiments with electricity during his lifetime, and made many contributions to the budding science. The kite helped him form some theories about it and learn something of its nature.

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History of Flight and Avaition © 2012 Hobby Hobnob

Monday, February 25, 2008

History of the Kite - Niagara Gorge Kite Contest

During this same period, in America, another novel use for kites was found. In 1845, a bridge across the Niagara Gorge above the falls was envisioned. The Falls had become a huge tourist attraction and developers imagined huge profits if a bridge above it could be constructed. But in an age before helicopters how do you stretch a cable across an eight hundred foot gorge which towers over two hundred feet above a treacherous rapids.

Kites were suggested by one engineer. And from this the idea of the Niagara Gorge Kite Contest was born. In January 1848 the contest commenced. After several failed attempts, young Homan Walsh succeeded on January 30, 1848. His prize was about ten dollars. With a kite line now across the gorge, it was used to pull a stronger line across. Then a rope was attached to this line and pulled across. Finally, a steel cable was pulled across. This cable paved the way for the first cable car to cross the gorge, then a suspension bridge later that same year.

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History of Flight and Avaitio

© 2012 Hobby Hobnob

Friday, February 22, 2008

History of Kites - Carriages

George Pocock a few years later did a lot of experimenting with kites. Pocock was an inventor and schoolteacher from Bristol, England. He started his experiments using kites to lift weights. Starting with small stones, he gradually worked his way up to using a specially designed chair to first lift his daughter, then his son, into the air in 1825. He used the kite to place his son on the top of a high cliff on the English coast. His son dismounted, then remounted and returned safely to the earth.

Perhaps the most interesting idea he came up with was kite drawn carriages. In 1826 he designed a device he called the Charvolant (from the French char for carriage attached to volant from the French term for kite: cerf-volant). This was a fairly elaborate kite drawn carriage complete with steering and braking capability. He achieved speeds of up to twenty miles an hour with this vehicle and easily overtook horse drawn carriages with it. He even undertook a 113 mile trip through the English countryside with it.

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History of Flight and Avaition

© 2012 Hobby Hobnob

Thursday, February 21, 2008

History Of Kites - Meteorology

Alexander Wilson was a Scottish astronomer and meteorologist and was one of the founding members of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He lived from 1714 - 1719 and made numerous contributions to astronomy and meteorology. Dr. Wilson was the first scientist to use kites as a scientific tool.

In 1749, while a professor at the University of Glasgow, he attached thermometers to a string of kites and measured the air temperatures at different altitudes. He managed to record temperatures as high as 3000 feet. He was assisted in this endeavor by a student named Thomas Melville. The thermometers were attached to the kite with a fuse. When the fuse burned out, the thermometer was released and parachuted back to earth using paper brushes. The temperature at various altitudes was successfully recorded using this method.

Back To All About Kites History of Flight and Avaition

© 2012 Hobby Hobnob

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

History of the Kite - Sir George Cayley

Sir George Cayley (1773-1857) was the first person to study the science of aerodynamics seriously. He is considered by many to be the "Father of Aerodynics." Scarbourgh, England was the place of his birth. He was an English baronet and inventor who created the basic design of the modern aircraft.

The first aircraft Cayley built was a kite type craft with a movable tail. The kite flew quite successfully for a ten year period, 1799 - 1809, Cayley experimented extensively with kites. It was during this period that he developed many of his designs for his later work.

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© 2012 Hobby Hobnob

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Kites - A History - Evolution

Regardless of where the kite originated, kite flying and building spread slowly across the world from its home in Asia. Marco Polo, a famous thirteenth century explorer and merchant, wrote extensively about kites when he returned to his home in Italy in 1295. Kites in Europe were made from parchment and were inititially regarded as children's toys.

This perception slowly changed over the ensuing centuries as military strategists and the budding interest in science saw their potential. The kite evolved over time to become a weapon, surveillance tool and scientific instrument as well as serve as a valuable precursor to the beginnings of controlled, heavier than air flight by humans.

Back To All About Kites History of Flight and Avaitio

© 2012 Hobby Hobnob

Monday, February 18, 2008

History of Kites - Malaysia

China is usually mentioned as the originator of the kite. This is mostly because the Chinese learned how to weave silk into cloth and thread and had bamboo available which is an ideal framework for kites. But a case can be made that Malaysia was the first place in history where kites were flown.

Malaysia has a very long tradition of kite flying. Their first kites were made from leaves using bamboo as a structural material. Leaf kites are still flown there. There are many trees there with very large leaves. And it is easy to imagine that leaves flying in the wind could have inspired the first kite builders.

History of Flight and Avaition

© 2012 Hobby Hobnob

Friday, February 15, 2008

History of Kites - Thailand

Kites were introduced to Thailand from China. The Thais used them to carry cargo, developed the sport of kite fighting and and used the kites to send messages to the gods. A Thai king may also used kites to deliver the first aerial bombing in history. He had kegs of gunpowder tied to kites and flew them over a rebel fortification and the resulting explosions caused the rebels to give up and surrender.

Back To All About Kites History of Flight and Avaition

© 2012 Hobby Hobnob

Thursday, February 14, 2008

History of Kites - Japan

Another country in which the kite became important was Japan. According to legend, Buddhist monks brought kite technology to Japan during the Nara Period, which lasted from about 649-794 AD. By 981 AD the word "paper hawk" or "Kami Tobi" appeared in the Japanese language. The name suggests that most Japanese kites were bird shaped.

The Japanese developed many useful uses for kites. They were used to lift roofing tiles and other building materials to the tops of shrines and other buildings under construction. There are many legends involving kites as well. An Icarus type tale with a happy ending involves a twelfth century Japanese warrior and his son who was exiled to an island. The son grew lonely and the father, sympathetic to his son's plight, built a huge kite which the son rode to escape to the mainland.

One Japanese tradition involves the carp and kites. When a new son is born, a carp shaped kite is flown. May 5 is Boys Day in Japan and parents fly carp shaped kites in equal number to the sons which they have. In Japan the carp is the symbol of courage and strength. This is because the carp must swim upstream past many obstacles to reach its spawning grounds.

Back To All About Kites History of Flight and Avaition © 2012 Hobby Hobnob

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Kites In Chinese History

Kites In Chinese History The kite became very important in Chinese culture. They developed many different types, some even having bamboo whistles attached to them which whistle in the wind. As such, the kite has taken on much religious and philosophical symbolism. Flying a kite is believed to bring good luck, and the higher the kite flies the more luck it brings. Kites are also flown to ward off evil spirits. Marco Polo wrote about the Chinese custom which merchants used a kite to tell them if ships should be launched on a voyage. They would find an intoxicated man, tie him to a kite and fly the kite over the harbor. If the kite flew well, the ships were launched. If the kite crashed into the sea, the boats were kept in port. Kite making in China is a very advanced art. Most designs found on kites symbolize something important in Chinese culture. Some are for good luck, others harmony, still others power and prosperity. Today there are many kite festivals in China which celebrate the kite and its importance in Chinese culture. Back To All About Kites History of Flight and Avaitio

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

History of Kites - China

Kites were used by the Chinese early in their history to gain military advantages over their enemies. Han Hsin of the Han Dynasty used a kite to help him capture a city. The kite was flown over the city and allowed to go over the city's walls. The line was marked and the kite hauled in. Next, a tunnel was dug, using the kite's line as a guide to the length the tunnel needed to be to enter the city under the wall. His troops thus were able to surprise the enemy from within the city and it fell.

Kites were also used militarily in other ways. Observers were lifted up into the air to spy on enemy troop positions. Some were used to lift fireworks into the air to confuse and terrify enemy troops in battle. Different shapes of kites were flown to send certain types of messages to troops during battle, and some were flown after being set on fire to deliver other types of messages. The history of kites used in battle is a long and storied one.

Back To All About Kites History of Flight and Avaition

Friday, February 01, 2008

Who Invented the Kite?

Two Chinese philosophers, Mozi and Lu Pan, are the legendary inventors of the kite.

Lu Ban, according to tradition, built a wooden bird model which had the ability to stay aloft for up to three days. He lived during the fifth century BC, and this is the period during which kites were thought to be invented. His real name was Gongshu Ban, he was born in the Chinese state of Lu. In addition to being a master carpenter he was also a philosopher, military thinker, and statesman. Lu Ban was a contemporary of Mozi.

Mozi was a trained engineer and master craftsman who designed and built everything from mechanical birds to weapons of war. Later in his life he became a pacifist who went to great lenths to discourage Chinese rulers from warfare.

These two Chinese craftsmen are the lengendary inventors of the kite. There are records of kites being flown in 559 BC in China, so this could be true.

Back To All About Kites History of Flight and Avaition

© 2012 Hobby Hobnob