Kites are objects flown on a tether by a human operator, with three main components: the kite body, harness, and line. They originated in China and are used recreationally, competitively, and for observing the weather. Kites come in various styles and materials, including sports kites and power kites.
A kite is an object designed to fly on a tether while being handled by a human operator. Most kites have three main components: the kite body itself, a harness, and a line. Numerous styles of kites are flown around the world recreationally, competitively and sportingly; many cultures have a large kite flying component, especially in Asia and the Middle East. Kites are readily available at toy stores and sporting goods suppliers, and some people even enjoy making their own.
Kites appear to have originated in China; written and painted descriptions of kites date to around 200 BC. Evidence suggests that kites spread throughout China to other parts of Asia and eventually the Middle East, and in the medieval era, kites were very popular toys for Europeans. Kites have also historically been used as tools for observing the weather and other studies of the natural world.
A kite is heavier than air, but has a design that should favor wind resistance. When the kite is launched, air pressure builds up under the kite, causing it to lift; as winds and air pressure change, the kite moves across the sky. Many kites have multiple yokes or lines so they can be controlled more easily, although the classic design includes a line that the user can spool or pay as needed.
A kite’s frame is usually made from a lightweight material; traditionally this would have been wood, although plastics and light metals are used on modern kites. Sheets of paper, fabric or plastic are stretched over the structure of a kite, transforming it into a kind of giant wing. Some common kite styles include box kites, which look like two open boxes attached to each other, diamond kites, and lozenge kites. Several manufacturers produce very inventive kites with special design features to keep them in the air longer.
In addition to the basic kites, people can also use sports kites, kites designed with a high degree of controllability so that they can perform stunts and aerobatics. These stunt kites are often used in competition, sometimes in formation with other kites in teams. For sports like kitesurfing and kite buggy riding, people use power kites, extremely large kites that are designed to generate a lot of pull for the user. Hang gliders and paragliders also refer to their equipment as a “kite,” as their equipment works the same way as a regular children’s kite.