Kites – so much more than child’s play !
Ah, the old-fashioned charm of flying kites on the beach! To celebrate the arrival of summer, let’s take a closer look at an object we’re all familiar with, although we may not know all its uses; an object that’s appreciated as much for its beauty as for its aerodynamic performance.
A Scientific Tool
It’s a lesser known fact that the scientific community has long been interested in kites. In 1752, Benjamin Franklin used a kite to explain the phenomenon of lightning and invented the lightning rod. Kites have also played a major role in the history of aviation. Before our time, Chinese pioneers built kites big enough to lift a passenger and the very first known aircraft was no more than a kite equipped with an engine.
With climate change, the kite is returning to the forefront of innovation as a motive power. For the first time, an Antarctic expedition in December 2018 and January 2019 used a giant 120-metre square kite to pull a truck-sized sledge loaded with over 2 tonnes of material. This zero-emission vehicle called “Inuit Windsled” was designed by the Spanish polar explorer Ramón Larramendi, who led the expedition. This extraordinary mission enabled ten scientific experiments to be conducted in the fields of climate change, meteorology and astrobiology.
“This marks the first time we’ve climbed the Fuji Dome in a vehicle driven by the wind. (…) this is also the first time we’ve travelled more than 2,400 km with more than 2,000 kg of cargo using a vehicle that does not pollute the Antarctic continent,” enthused the explorer.
With its finesse, resistance and lightness, the aerodynamic virtues of the kite, known to us for millennia, are continuing to inspire science and enchant children and adults alike.
The first known aircraft were no more than kites equipped with engines.
In January 2019, a scientific expedition transported 2 tonnes of cargo across 2,400 km of the Antarctic continent using a giant kite.
This Summer’s Kite Destinations
Portsmouth Kite Festival (England) : 10–11 July, 2019
Berkeley Kite Festival 2019 (San Francisco district, USA) : 27–28 July, 2019
Bali International Kite Festival 2019 : 15–18 August, 2019
Festival of the Winds (Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia) : 8 September, 2019