People were flying kites 1,000 years before paper was invented.
It is now thought that the first kites flown over 3000 years ago, were made from leaves.
For centuries kites have been used in wars and battles, for signalling, lifting observers, target practice, as barrage kites, dropping propaganda leaflets etc.
Kites were used in the American Civil War to deliver letters and newspapers.
Large kites were banned in East Germany because of the possibility of man lifting over the Berlin Wall.
The British scholar Joseph Needham, said in his book 'Science and Civilisation in China', that the kite was the most important scientific device to have come to Europe from China.
When the Japanese were building some of the early temples and shrines, they used large kites to lift tiles and other materials to the workmen on the roofs.
The Russians used kites to tow torpedoes in 1855 with great accuracy.
In 1826 there used to be a stage coach service between London and Bristol using kites instead of horses.
Kites have been used in many sea rescues.
In the Second World War, the RAF issued pilots with a 'rescue kit' comprising a dingy and a folding box kite called a Gibson Girl which enabled them to send an SOS message from a portable transmitter with the kite line acting as the aerial.
In 1847, a young boy won a competition to fly and land a kite on the other side of the Niagara River. They then used the kite line to pull larger cables over the river, enabling them to start work on building the first railway bridge between Canada and the USA.
The delta hang glider was a development of flexiwing kite called a Rogallo.
The first powered aircraft were large box kites with motors fitted to them.
Alexander Bell, the inventor of the telephone also developed the tetrahedral kite, which was very successfully used for man carrying.
The world-renowned father of aeronautical theory was Sir George Caley (1721 to 1790) who lived near Scarborough in Yorkshire. He discovered the difference between lift and thrust and invented the steerable tail and rudder. He also discovered the importance of the dihedral angle for stability of flight and knew the importance of a curved wing.
If a lightweight engine had been invented in Sir George Caleys time he would have beaten the Wright brothers' flight by over 150 years.
Lawrence Hargrave was an English man who emmigrated to Australia where he invented the box kite in 1893.
The paragliders that brought back the first space capsules to earth were a development of the Rogallo Kite, invented by Francis Rogallo in 1948.
The Rogallo kite was the model for the first hang gliders.
The modern ram air parachute and paragliders were developed from a parafoil kite invented by the American kite maker, Domina Jalbert in 1963.
Baden-Powell (the brother of the founder of the scout movement) did lots of successful experiments with man-lifting kites.
Samuel Franklin Cody, who invented the Cody manlifting kite system, was the first man to cross the English Channel towed by kites in 1903.
In 1908 Samuel Franklin Cody was the first man in England to build and fly a powered aircraft; a large box kite fitted with a small engine.
Samuel Franklin Cody was the first man in England to be killed in a powered aircraft accident in 1913.
In 1901 Marconi used a Hexagon kite to transmit the first radio signals across the Atlantic. The kite line was used as the aeriel.
Benjamin Franklin used a kite to prove that lightning was electricity.
The smallest kite in the world which actually flies is 5mm high.
The largest number of kites flown on a single line is 11,284, this record is held by a Japanese kite maker.
The longest kite in the world is 1034 metres (3394 ft).
The largest kite in the world is the Megabite 55 x 22 metres (630sq metres).
The fastest recorded speed of a kite is over 120 mph. (193 km/h).
The record for the highest single kite flown is 3801 metres (12,471ft).
for a train of kites 9740 metres (31,955 ft).
The world record for the longest 'kite fly' is 180 hours.
The fastest crossing of the English Channel towed by kites was 2hrs 30min by a team from Flexifoil International in 1999. They would have done it in 2hrs if the French Coastguards had not stopped them 1/2 a mile from the French coast.
Some Japanese kites weigh over 2 tonnes.
One of the longest Chinese dragons I have seen flying was over 600 metres long.
In 1985 I was presented to his HRH Prince Charles after winning a British Council travel award to visit kite festivals in China. He told me that whilst on honeymoon on the Royal Yacht Britannia he asked a crew member to launch his kite (a wedding present) from the rear of the yacht. The kite went up so fast the line burnt his hands - he had to let go and lost the kite. He said he learned two things that day, first you must wear gloves when flying kites and secondly remember to tell the Captain of the ship to slow down.
More adults in the world fly kites than children.
There is at least one Kite Festival every weekend of the year in some part of the world.
There are many indoor Kite Festivals.
Approximately 12 people are killed each year in kiting accidents throughout the world.
Kite flying is one of the fastest growing sports in the world.
You do not need wind to fly a kite.
There are over 50 million kites sold in the USA every year.