KITE FLYING: AN ECO SPORT- Group Captain S S Puri (Rted)
Posted on Feb 19, 2018 by Administrator
A Kite is traditionally a tethered heavier-than-air- craft, with wing surfaces that react against the air to create lift and drag.
The lift that surfaces the kite in fight is generated when air moves around the kite’s surface, producing low pressure above and high pressure below the wings. The interaction with the wind also generates horizontal drag along the direction of the wind.
The kites originated, more than 2000 years back though the exact origin is debated, its believed, the home of the first kite was Shandong China. This is because the material required silk fabric, high tensile strength silk for flying line, and resilient bamboo were easily available in China. Mozi and Luban, two Chinese philosophers of the 5th century, are credited with the invention of the kite.
Later paper kites were used as message for a rescue mission, measuring the distance (Gen. Han of Han dynasty for measuring distance for digging tunnel to reach enemy’s fort),testing the wind lifting man, signaling and communication, for military operations.
Kite flying was eventually spread by traders from CHINA to KOREA and ACROSS to INDIA.
For thousands of years, kites have graced the skies of many nations of the world. They have been used as cultural symbols and canvases for artistic expression, instruments of science and technology and war, past –time and amusement for young and old alike and pursuit for serious hobbyists’. All these applications have ensured that kites have endured over the course of time.
Development Of Kites
The History of kites after 1000 AD saw the becoming more popular at all levels of Chinese society. If you could not afford silk, you always could use paper. Sometime after this kite flying became a seasonal activity.
The Early 1900S – Cody lifted his man lifting system in 1901. The idea was that a human observer could provide an advantage on the battle field, by observing the enemy from a greater height. The wings and waves made the kites even more stable and suited to lifting heavy objects.
The 1940 – Another military application can be found in the emergency kits issued to pilots, in the Second World War in the 1940s. Called the Gibson Girl Box kite, it could be flown by a pilot, lost at sea, with its line acting as the aerial for a radio transmitter.
The 1970 – A very significant early power kite was the Flexifoil. It was a 2- line design by Ray Merry and Andrew Jones who worked in England. Flexifoil is now the name of a kitting company. This was the era that stunt kite flying really started to blossom.
THE 1990S – Soon after the Sparless Stunter came the Quatrefoil by Ted Dougherty. One of the very first 4 – liners in the history of power Kites. The Quatrefoil traction kite was rectangular in outline and was first seen in competitions in 1990,
In 1994, a young German KAP (kite aerial photography) Enthusiast, Ralf Bevtnagel, made a kite like 2 Person rollers side by side, the extra lifting power was needed to get the camera gear aloft, the person design being a bit too small for the job.
Gradually, patents and new designs continued popping up everywhere. Including the tailless Diamond kite, the tetra hedral kite, the flexible kite, the sled kite, and the parafoil kite, which helped to develop aircrafts by the Wright bros./ Hang gliders and now the drones.
All over the world kite fliers Assns have been formed and the prominent being the American Kite Fliers Assn, with over 5,000 members in over 35 nations.
With the development of ultra light space-age materials and innovative designs, despite threat by the drones, the future of kiting industry seemed as bright as ever.
Kite Flying In India
Kite flying has been very popular all over India Mahraja Ranjit Singh used to hold a festival every year, known at the annual Basant Fair, in which kite flying was added later.
In his durber, situated in Lahore, he and his wife Queen Moran, would dress in yellow and celebration would last 10-12 days. The celebration would involve army, showing the prowess by marching in front of audience, followed by acrobatic stunts. (may be we could emulate the Maharaja, in the Delhi Kite Festival in Delhi on 14th JAN every year).
Start of harvest and start of summers, and India explodes into a number of festivals, all are on the same day – the 14th JAN : Pongal, Makker Sankranti Uttarayan, Lohari Bihu. After all India is an agricultural country and harvest festival gets it due.
Uttarayan or Makker- Sankaranti is the kite flying festival of INDIA. The significance of MakKer Sankranti/Pongal/Lohari /Bihu, is that unlike the other Hindu festivals, which follow the lunar (moon) motion, Makker Sankranti follows the movement of the sun. It marks the beginning of the sun’s transition into the zodiac Capricorn (Makker= Capricorn, Sankranti- transition). This makes it the only festival to fall on a fixed date every year –JAN 14TH.
This is the day winter officially ends and spring begins – a transition symbol of discarding the previous season’s bad and beginning of a fresh new season.
Uttarayan in Gujarat (Particularly in Ahmadabad), is synonymous with kite flying so is the INDEPENDENCE day on the 15th Aug . There are about 360 ‘Pol’ houses for kite flying in Ahmadabad, earlier one built in 1738.
The Gujarat Tourism, Organizes a 3 day festival of kite flying at Baroda, Surat and Ahmadabad (now by Delhi Tourism also). In the West Easter is the time for fun kite flying, to represent resurrection of Christ.
Makkar Sankranti is a time for thanks giving, letting your kite fligh higher up to the heavens, is a sign for the gods to wake up as it is believed that they slumber for 6 months (as animals go into hibernation during the winters).
Kite flying is a team event. An expery prepare the kite. Another one rolls the ‘ manjah’ (string) for the flier. The co-ordination between the flier and the one rolling the ‘Manjah’ is very important. The contest among the kites are very intensively found during the ‘Pechaes’.
Later in the evening as the sun sets, the night festivities of eating and of paper lamps (‘fanush’) from terraces of ‘Pols’ begin, the sky is filled with floating lights.
Bollywood Movies And Songs On Kite Flying
Bollywood loves India festivals, as they provide the perfect background for lots of dressing, music, dance and lavish sets. Right from Makkar Sankranti to Diwali, our movies celebrate each festival with much fanfare and enthusiasm.
Right from the golden era songs – “ Udi Udi Re Patang Meri Udi Re” we have a movie ‘ KAI POCHE’ (I have cut), celebrating the kite flying festival.
In ‘ Yeh Khula Aasmaan’ movie uses kite flying to teach beautiful lessons of life, while Gaittu the boy who dreams of ruling the skies, takes you back to those happy and innocent days of childhood. And ‘Firangi Patang’ shows a hilarious scene where Amitabh Bachan tries his hand at a Firangi Patang man lifting kite (like hang glider), will just make your day and make your smile at how far technology has taken us today.
Now animation has entered movies, as in ‘ A boy and his kite’.
Kite Flying As An Olympic Event
A kite flying event was an unofficial sport at the Paris Olympics in 1900, with events of highest altitude in one hour, (with instrument readers attached to the kite) and the other category required the kite to remain in the air for 2 hours, with 200m. cable.
Ranking was done by measuring the cable of the line from the kite to the point of attachment with the horizontal the bearing surfaces, the cable tension dynamometer, and apprenating the stability of the kite the categories were small, medium and large kites.
Now due to technical advancement, many new computer games (including a simulator) are available for kite games
- Octopus shaped 90 ft. inflated kite flew 4000 mtr agl;
- Biggest kite flown, with a lifting approx of 10,971 sq ft. ;
- Guinness World Record on 29 JULY at Gaza, by 13,000 people flying kites.
- The fastest recorded speed of a kite is about 193 km/h.
- Weifang the kite flying capital of the world boast of the largest kite museum in the world.
- The smallest Kite in the World, which actually flies is 5 mm long.
- “ Throw your dreams into space like kite, and you don’t know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.” – Anais Nin
- “ Kites rise highest against the wind – not with it “. – Winston Churchill
- “ A kite needs to be tied down in order to fly. I learned how important restrictions can sometimes be in order to experience freedom – D. Riee
- “ True courage is like a kite; a contrary wind raises it high-“ John Petit
- “I am learning kite surfing. It’s a little surfboard you have on your feet with straps, and you have a big kite like a power- glider in the air that pulls you. You don’t need waves to move, and it makes a big spray of water as you go’- Bertrand Pik Card.
Kite Museum And Hall Of Fame
World kite Museum and the Hall of Fame at Washington, is fully dedicated to the art and science of world history of kites whereas the Weifang, China Museum is considered as the largest museum of kites in the world. We have also a modest kite museum at Ahmadabad (with strict’ no photography’).
America Hall of Fame pays spl. tribute to the outstanding participants in the art, science, religion and the sport of the multicultural phenomenon diversity in their activities spans history and geography. They include Giam Batista Dell Porta, who suggested use of his ‘Delta Prota kite’ for using it for lifting kittens and puppies (hope PETA is not listening to it) as a spur to the manned flight.
While Do Tabor developed synchronized team flying performing to music Vietnam too used to attach small flutes, instead of tails, to ‘hum’ a musical tunes).
Valene Gorig, is founder of American kite Assn. Jone Park is founder of ‘one sky one world’ flight for peace. Lan Son and Millet developed the first man lifting kite in 1897.
On the war front, in 1850, the Russians towed torpedoes with great accuracy using kites and on the civil side, in 1826, a stage – coach service between London and Bristol used to be driven by kites instead of horses.
The Chinese name for a kite is ‘Fenzheng’,. Which means wind harp. This name came about because early Chinese kites used to carry wind musical instruments with them. Also, the first kite flier was first documented in China in the 4th century.
May be if not possible to have a dedicated museum for the kites(, a National obsession earlier) may be a section dedicated to the kites and balloons in the National Museum. We may also go for an International/National kite flying festival/Day to link our traditions to the present.
On the private side, where a museum is not possible, we may learn from Richard Dermen, a pizza shop owner and a kite collector extraordinaire. The walls of Dermen Pizza Joint, are covered in kites from all over the world. He is presently the President of the American Kite Fliers Assn. He also has a kite books library.
Extreme/ Stunt Kite Flying Sport
In Malaysia these stunt Flying are quite popular. In the recent 4th INTL, Kite Festival at Delhi, 20 Year old
Tristan Underwood of Canada, wowed everyone with his Four-string revolution stunt Kites. Controlling the Kite with the simultaneous manipulation of four strings which needs Years of practice. Stunts include-Flips and rotations in the manner of a fighter jet.
When Dermen Started stunt-Kiting, It was pretty new. All the kites were Triangular, and all looked about The same. But later on 80s and 9’0s, kites went through quite a development phase, where they where getting better and better, As New Lighter, Stronger Materials were being Developed. Tubular fiberglass became obsolete when Tubula Grafhite came along. He set up New Rules for Judging these Stunt Kite competitions, which take into account,:how much control the Flyer has, the difficulty of the Moves, and the Choreography. Its lot like Ice skating Or Gymnastics.
In the recent Ahmadabad Intl Kite Festival, Kite cut out of rising foam were witnessed, as new Innovation of technology.
Health Benefits Of Kite Flying
There’s an old saying in China – “ Those who fly kite can have a long life.” It means that kite flying on a regular basic can lead to longevity.
Here are some health benefits of kite flying:
EXERCISE- Kite flying puts you in a environment that is conducive to outdoor play. If you like to get your kite in the air with a running start (even thought the wind usually does the work for you),the sprints could help get your heart rate up.
MINDFULNESS- Being mindful of your current surroundings fosters acute awareness of the here and now. That awareness, in turn has a number of proven health benefits including pain management and decreased anxiety and depression.
GOOD FOR THE EYES- Kite flying is also good for eye health. Gazing at the fly sky above can better regulate eye muscles and nerves, which helps alleviate eye fatigue and can prevent myopia.
GOOD FOR THE NECK- As we look upward, our neck opens, an important counter balance to looking down or at eye level. Those who sit at a desk/or tied to the mobile, are at a high risk of cervical disease, and while flying a kite, one- can maintain the cervical spine and spinal muscle tension
GOOD FOR MOUTH- The Chinese believe that when we look up at the kite in the sky our mouth opens a bit. This helps in getting rid of the excess heat in the body and thus maintaining healthy yin- yang balance.
REDUCES STRESS- Kite flying will regenerate energy and has a way of reducing stress and tension of everyday life. Watching a kite drifty across the sky, It’s easy to relax, temporarily letting go of today’s headaches and tomorrows deadlines.
BEAUTY- A colorful kite soaring gracefully overhead is a lovely sight. Making your own kite can be an act of artistry and creativity but even selection of a store – bought kite is a mode of personal expression and a celebration of what’s beautiful to you. Think of it as having happiness on a string.
But Kites May Leave You Powerless
While flying kites with traditional ‘Saddi’ (raw cotton thread of Bareilly) is not generous but a creative hobbit but in spite of ban the metallic ‘Manjha’ (string) with conductive materials is widely used. This lead to multiple cases of electrocution and several instances of power tripping.
There are penal provisions under Electricity Act and Delhi Police Act for disrupting power supply and causing damage to power equipment.
25000 volt electricity passes through electric wires above Metro tracks. When a metallic ‘Manjha’ comes in contact with it, there is a huge possibility that the kite flyer could get electrocuted. It can also disrupt running of metro services the life line of Delhi and enormous loss of man hours.
Ban On Kite Flying
In the past, many countries banned kites for various reasons. East Germany banned large kites because it was thought that they could potentially be used to lift someone across the Berlin Wall.
Japan banned kite flying in 1760, because it was distracting too many people from their work.
Now in India , kite flying with metallic powder coated thread is banned the metallic coated thread is basically supplied by china. People go for it because of its strength, cut rivals kite, thread easily and more importantly it is cheaper and lighter than the cotton Bareilly manjha.
Doing the Govt’s ban on Chinese matalic or nylon manjhas, Hath Karga Laghu Patang UdyogSamiti , which has affected their business ( employing more than 10000 patang makers/ patang- baazs, besides other traders numbering about 1 Lakh), their shops have stopped selling the Chinese manjha. The Chinese manjha not only trips electricity but also pose daneger to birds, animals and humans. On plea of PETA (People for the ethnical treatment of animals) the National Green Panel has banned the use of metallic manjha for kite flying. Thousands of birds are killed every year, injured by manjha or entangled in the unbreakable strings,
Capitals Shri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir Bird Hospital, is the only hospital for treatment of the birds
Many incidents, where passers-bys/ two wheeler riders throats got slit by sharp string of kites. In the recent incident at the Cattle Fair at Nagaur (Raj), where on a commercial powered parachute ride, A DelhiI Pilot, died, due to the kite string got entangled in the engine of the powered parachute. The Police and the elec. Dept. has been conducting workshops and ‘Nukkad Nataks’ in the schools,
To educate children on the perils of Metallic Manjha.
Comical, is the tight vigil on ground and sky by the Delhi Police for the Independence Day celebrations at the Red Fort, but still a kite landed on the speaker’s Dias of the Prime Minister.
Besides PETA and like minded organizations/ activists, an unique protest demonstration by bird lovers, against the Chinese manjha was held at the Jantar Mantar (The Hyde - Park of London), which the Govt. has taken off from the Demonstration Venue, of course for the right reasons.
Kites have been part of our tradition and civilization since ancient times and even today they are flown to Celebrate various festivals and sentiments.
It continues undoubtedly still a worthwhile activity and could be enjoyed by all, not just by children. The chance to realize that we can still find enjoyment, in something that might be considered as a ‘Traditional’. Perhaps even old fashioned pastime it’s a great excuse to get outside and enjoy an afternoon of fresh air and enjoy shouting “BO KATA”.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Group Captain S S Puri (Rted), FRGS is an adventure Sports enthusiast but traditional by nature. After retirement, he devotes his life for social work and revival of Indian traditions, particularly sports. He regularly contributes articles on Rural Sports
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