Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating
First in Flight
December 17, 2020
What comes to mind when you hear this phrase? Orville & Wilbur Wright? The State of North Carolina’s motto and bragging rights? The movie Top Gun? We are taking this theme quite literally, trying to discover the actual first in flight. The answer is the kite! They are certainly little flying machines that have astounded Man for centuries. There are millions of people around the world, that look up to the skies to watch or fly a kite. “What easier way to get from the ground to the sky”, said Benjamin Franklin when he was trying to figure out the nature of lightning. Kites set people’s imaginations wild.
earliest written account of kite flying was about 200 B.C. when the Chinese
General Han Hsin of the Han Dynasty flew a kite over the walls of a city he was
attacking to measure how far his army would have to tunnel to reach past the
defenses. Knowing this distance his troops reached the inside of the city,
surprised their enemy, and were victorious. How clever?
flying was eventually spread by traders from China to Korea, and across Asia to
India. Each area developed a distinctive style of kite and cultural purpose for
Polo carried stories of kites to Europe around the end of the 13th century.
Illustrations of the period show non-flying dragon kites on military banners.
Sailors also brought kites back from Japan and Malaysia in the 16th and 17th
centuries. Kites were regarded as curiosities at first and had little impact on
back in the Americas, men like Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Wilson used
their knowledge of kite flying to learn more about the wind and weather. Sir
George Caley, a very important figure in aeronautics, who quite fancied
aviation himself, Samuel Langley, an astronomer, Lawrence Hargrave, an engineer
and explorer, Alexander Graham Bell, an inventor and scientist, and the Wright
Brothers, the aviation pioneers! All of these people have experimented with
kites and contributed to the development of the airplane, and our understanding
of flight. They have all contributed to man’s desire to reach for the skies,
and ultimately the stars.
its invention, there have been many adaptations to the kite by various cultures
around the world. The kite you probably flew as a kid looks a bit different to
the original Chinese kites and even the kites of modern China.
A Chinese kite in ancient times would have used simple materials such as wood and cloth. They were often made to resemble the shapes of birds. Today, elaborate and large designs can be seen flying above parks in China. They will often resemble real animals and members of the Chinese Zodiac. Some kites will have LED lights attached to allow for night flights and fun light shows. There is even a kite museum where you can view designs and learn more about the history of kites through the ages!
how do kites actually fly? What is the science behind them?
let’s talk about airplanes. An airplane
flies because the wings create lift. The air going over the wing is moving
faster than the air going under the wing, and this creates a low-pressure causing
terms of kites, lift is generated by differences in air pressure, which are
created by air in motion over the body of the kite. Kites are
shaped and angled so that the air moving over the top moves faster than the air
moving along the bottom. To launch a kite into the air the force of
lift must be greater than the force of gravity, just like airplanes!
Who’s ready to fly a kite? If you’re ready, check out our at-home experiment: Chinese Kite! Grab your materials and follow along with the lesson plan to make your very own kite!