People have been making and flying kites for about 2,000 years. No one knows for sure who invented the kite. Some historians believe it the ancient Chinese may have started kite flying 2000 years ago. It is still a popular hobby in China, Japan and Korea and in other countries of the Far East where beautifully decorated appear in different colors. In China there is even a special Kites Day on which children and adults fly kites. In Japan families fly fish kites on Children's Day, May5th.
Simple kites are made by crossing two sticks and covering them with paper or cloth. Then you attach a string at the end. More expensive kites have frames made of fiberglass, plastic or aluminium. The name comes from a graceful bird called kite.
Kites are made in many different sizes, colors and shapes. A flat kite is the oldest and simplest type of kite. It flies because air flows over and under the kite's wing. The pressure under the wing helps the kite lift into the air.
Kites have also been used in experiments. Early scientists sent kites up into the air to measure temperature at different heights. In 1752, Benjamin Franklin used a kite to prove that lightning was a form of electricity. He attached a metal key to the string of a kite. When lightning hit the kite, electricity passed down the string and Franklin got an electric shock. It was a very dangerous experiment that you shouldn't copy.
Kites were also used to develop airplanes. The Wright Brothers experimented with kites before they flew the first airplane. In the past kites were used in to take pictures in wars. In World War I the Germans developed a large kite that could transport people to a submarine. Kites were also used to carry radio signals over long distances.
Today most people fly kites as a hobby. Kite festivals are organized in many cities in all parts of the world.