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Go fly a kite!

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Have you heard that from someone trying to get rid of you? Maybe you should listen to them; lots of great, fun, and wonderful accomplishments have come from the simple act of flying a kite.

Chinese legends claim that the first use of a kite was by a Chinese general around 200 B.C., but not everyone agrees. Ancient Greek and Egyptian history also records the early use of kites.

Whoever invented them, kites have proved very useful in a lot of ways besides providing fun on a windy spring afternoon. Ben Franklin's use of a kite to explore the nature of lightning is just one example. In Scotland in the 18th century, a series of kites with thermometers attached were sent aloft to record temperature.

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Later, scientists discovered they could measure wind velocity by attaching a wind meter to a kite and sending it up. These kites were the forerunners of the weather satellites we know today.

In the late 1800s, scientists experimented with kites, balloons, and gliders. The knowledge they gained led to the invention of the airplane.

Kites aided the military in World War II. Target kites with pictures of enemy planes on them were used for gunnery practice. Soldiers and sailors stranded in life rafts sent kites soaring to signal for help. And cameras and radar equipment were sent up on kites to record enemy troop movements.

One of the more unusual roles played by a kite was to carry the first line over the Niagara Gorge to begin the building of a suspension bridge near Niagara Falls.

Kites with advertising slogans sometimes attract attention to businesses. Some people even fish with kites. They attach fishing lines to the poles, fly the lines over a likely spot, and drop the line. They claim it works! Several countries find kiting so popular they hold kite events. In China, the Kite Flying Festival is celebrated on the ninth day of the ninth month. Kites of all sizes and shapes--dragons, fishes, birds, and butterflies--take to the wind.

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Japan's Boys' Festival is held on May 5. A kite in the shape of the carp fish is flown by every boy in the household who hopes that he, too, will be as courageous as the carp.

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The Festival of Spring in India finds kites being flown from the rooftops.

Now the United States holds a kite festival, too. National Kite Month is celebrated in April. Many cities sponsor kite tournaments that include a variety of contests. Prizes are given for the highest-flying kites, the longest-flying kites, the largest kites, the smallest kites, and the best-constructed kites. If your city doesn't have a kite festival, organize your own with friends or ask if your school will sponsor one.

Kiting brings many small pleasures. It's fun and inexpensive. You can fly your kite any day that the weather is suitable. It is a sport that you can participate in alone or with a group of friends.

If you don't want to buy a kite, you can make your own using directions available in books at your local library.

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Sailing Safety

It's important to be careful when you're kiting.

* Never fly a kite that has any metal in its construction.

* Never fly a kite during rain or a thunderstorm.

* Never fly a kite near electric power lines, telephone lines, or transmission towers.

* Never fly your kite on or near public roads or highways.

Illustrated by Len Ebert
COPYRIGHT 2009 Benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Yelsik, Laura McFadden
Publication:Children's Digest
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2009
Words:585
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