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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Flying High

Kite Flying Day was March 27. Kite-flying festivals have been common this month, from the Smithsonian Institution’s Kite Festival last Saturday on the Mall to the Indoor Kite Festival in a high school gym in Lincoln, Oregon. The Smithsonian festival –- in its 40th year -– featured a handmade kite contest, a “hot tricks” competition and a rokkaku kite battle in which contestants attempt to cut the strings of opponents’ kites.

Kites have an illustrious history, from Ben Franklin’s famous experiment with lightning to their use in the military (to carry messages, munitions and for observation). The kite was the precursor to the airplane, and in 1894, Australian aviation pioneer Lawrence Hargrave was lifted from the ground by four kites in his quest for aerial transportation. Nine years later, Samuel Franklin Cody crossed the English Channel on a vessel towed by kites.

Check out:

The Magnificent Book of Kites: explorations in design, construction, enjoyment & flight by Maxwell Eden.

The Great Kite Book by Norman Schmidt.

Making and Flying Stunt Kites and One-Liners by Wolfgang Schimmelpfennig.

The Big Book of Kites by Jim Rowlands.

Dynamite Kites: 30 Plans to Build and Fly by Jack Wiley.

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