Photos of man-lifting kites that were used for aerial reconnaissance, 1900-1920

Human-lifting kites are specially designed kites that can lift humans. Back in the days, when airplanes and helicopters were pure fantasy, these human-lifting kites were the closest he could ever dream of flying.

Originally, kites were used for pleasure and entertainment, and later for aerial reconnaissance on the battlefield.

Interest in their development declined with the advent of powered flight in the early 20th century. Recreational human-lifted kites gradually gained popularity in the late 20th century, branching out into a number of sports.

Human-carrying kites were used in ancient China for both civilian and military purposes and were sometimes enforced as punishment.

The Book of Sui, dating from 636 CE, records that the tyrant Gao Yang, Emperor Wenxuan of Northern Qi, killed the prisoners by ordering them to 'fly away' using a bamboo mat.

There are also stories of human-carrying kites in Japan, following the introduction of kites from China around the seventh century AD.

In one such story, the Japanese thief Ishikawa Gomon (1558–1594) is said to have used a human-like trick to allow him to steal gold scales from a pair of ornamental fish paintings on top of Nagoya Castle. A flying kite was used.

His men swung him in the air on a trapeze attached to the tail of a giant kite. He flew to the roof where he stole the scales, and was then lowered and fled. Japan is said to have once had a law against the use of human-carrying kites.

In the early 1890s, Captain B.F.S Baden-Powell developed his "Levitor" kite, a hexagonal-shaped kite used by the military for aerial observation or to lift large loads such as wireless antennae. was done for.

On June 27, 1894, at Peerbright Camp, he used a kite to lift a man 50 feet (15.25 m) above the ground. By the end of that year, he was regularly using kites to lift men above 100 feet (30.5 m).

Baden-Powell's kites were sent to South Africa for use in the Boer War, but by the time they arrived, the fighting was over, so they were never put into use.

Lawrence Hargrave invented his box kite in 1885, and from that, he developed a human-carrying rig by line up four of them.

On 12 November 1894, he attached the rig to the ground on a long wire and lifted himself off the beach at Stanwell Park, New South Wales, reaching a height of 16 feet (4.9 m). The combined weight of his body and rig was 208 lb (94.5 kg).

Alexander Graham Bell developed a tetrahedral kite, which is made up of rods arranged in a honeycomb of triangular sections, called cells.

Bell and his team, the Aerial Experiment Association, also developed the shape of biplane structures and curved wings.

The group correctly predicted that lower structural requirements would provide a better lifting ratio; Large contemporary box designs gained weight faster than their lift, but a tetrahedral kite could be expanded with a nearly constant ratio.

Samuel Franklin Cody was the most successful of the pioneers of human-lifting kites. He patented a kite in 1901, which included an improvement on Hargrave's double-box kite.

He proposed that its manned-lifting capabilities be used for military observation. After a stunt in which he crossed the English Channel in a kite-drawn boat, he attracted enough interest from the Admiralty and the War Office to be allowed to conduct trials between 1904 and 1908.

He lifted a passenger at the end of a 4,000 ft (1,219 m) cable to a new record height of 1,600 ft (488 m). The War Office officially adopted Cody's war kites for the Balloon Companies of the Royal Engineers in 1906, and they entered service for observation on windy days when the companies' observation balloons were on the ground.

Like Hargrave, Cody built a line of kites to lift the Aeronaut, while greatly improving the details of the lifting gear.

He later built a "glider kite" that could be launched onto a tether like a kite, but then abandoned and flew back down as a glider.

The Balloon Companies were disbanded in 1911 and reformed as the Air Battalion of the Royal Engineers, the forerunner of the Royal Air Force.

Another system was developed by Boston kite maker Samuel F. Perkins, which used a lead kite to test wind conditions and then followed by additional kites to add lift until the string could support the weight of a man.

A narrow seat passenger was then lifted into the air while a ground crew manipulated the winch and ropes to stabilize the system.

However, the design was weak and subject to collapse with wind gusts.

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