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Kite flying is the activity of flying kites.
In this context a kite is a light, man-made object designed to fly in wind. The necessary lift that makes the kite fly is generated when the kite deflects a portion of the wind downwards. In addition to the lift, this deflection generates horizontal drag along the direction of the wind. This drag is opposed with the tension of one or more lines held by the operator of the kite. Kites held with more than one line can be steered by pulling the different lines with different strength.
In addition to kites that are mainly designed for the purpose of flying themselves, there are power kites or traction kites. These are designed to generate substantial excess lift and a pull that can be applied in related activities such as kite surfing, kiteboarding or kite buggying.
These kites are about 50 feet long each. The rainbow-colored wind sock near the bottom of the picture spins like a turbine.
Kite flying requires lightweight, but strong twine, as well as paper or tightly-woven cloth. Kites typically consist of one or more spars (sticks) that hold a sail of fabric taut. Classic kites use bamboo, rattan, or other strong but flexible wood for the spars, and use paper or light fabrics such as silk for the sails. Many modern kites use synthetic materials, such as nylon or more exotic fabrics for the sails, and fiberglass or carbon fiber for the spars.
Chinese kite designs often emulate flying insects, birds, and other beasts, both real and mythical. The finest Chinese kites are made from split bamboo (usually golden bamboo), covered with silk, and hand painted. On larger kites, clever hinges and latches allow the kite to be disassembled and compactly folded for storage or transport. Cheaper kites are often made from printed polyester rather than silk.
Kites flown by children are often the of geometric type. Kites can be designed with many different shapes, forms ,and sizes. They can take the form of historic flat geometric designs, box kites and other aerodynamic forms, or modern sparless inflatable designs.
These kites are shaped like an octopus and squid and are more than 40 feet long.
Modern acrobatic kites use more than one line to allow fine control of the kite's angle to the wind.
A recent addition to the kite family is the rotorkite. This type of kite consists of a rotor or rotors much like the rotors found on helicopters and autogiros. In a proper wind the rotors spin and create lift. This type of kite requires two control lines, one for each hand.
Practical & cultural uses
Kites have been used militarily in the past, both for delivery of messages and munitions, and for observation, by lifting an observer above the field of battle, and by using kite aerial photography.
Kites have also been used for scientific purposes, such as Benjamin Franklin's famous (but dangerous) experiment proving that lightning is electricity. Kites were the precursors to aircraft, and were instrumental in the development of early flying craft. Alexander Graham Bell experimented with very large man-carrying kites, as did the Wright brothers.
Kite flying is very popular in China, Japan, India, Thailand, and many other countries. In some countries, 'kite fights' are held, in which kite fighters try to snag each other's kites or cut other kites down. In Afghanistan this is known as "Gudiparan Bazi." Some kite fighters pass their strings through a mixture of ground glass powder and glue. The resulting strings are very abrasive and can sever the competitor's strings. However, this practice is dangerous since the abrasive strings can also injure people.
In recent years, multi-line kite flying has developed into a sport, with competitions for precision flying and for the artistic interpretation of music.
Kite festivals are also held where kites from around the world are displayed in the sky.
The Indian festival of Makar Sankranti is devoted to kite flying in some areas. This spring festival is celebrated every January 14 (or January 15 on leap years), with millions of people flying kites all over northern India. The festival is a public holiday in the state of Gujarat.
During the taliban rule in Afghanistan, kite flying was banned among various other recreations.
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