Friday, June 19, 2009


Traveling is likely to reveal unusual museums and I've been to a bead museum in Prescott, AZ, A Knife Museum and a Bait Museum both not far from Branson, MO, a Funeral Museum in Dallas, TX and a Sewing Machine Museum...well, I forget where. All were memorable and interesting, but when I suggested going to see a Kite Museum in Long Beach, Jim was a bit reluctant. I remembered reading the book, Keys To The Kingdom, and the protagonist asserting that "....the Chinese are a venerable and ancient culture and they fly kites..." this in answer to a priest colleague who thought a grown man was silly to go out and fly a kite.
None of this convinced Jim, but he attended anyway. At the bottom of this blog is a link to see 22 more colorful kites.
The history of kites was nothing short of amazing. No one knows who first tied sticks and cloth together and made them fly, but an Englishman by the name of George Pocock patented the first kite powered carriages. He would join carriage races and consistently win over horse drawn vehicles. His yacht was powered by a kite as well.
Kites have been used as crop sprayers, mail carriers, airplane brakes, bombers, radio messengers, aerial photographers and photo spies.
They have played an important role in wars over the years. Admiral Yum Yi of Korea, while fighting a war with Japan, developed a battlefield signal system on ground and sea that signaled his troops what tact to use. It was very specific, denoting weather information, to move west, or south or a particular hour of the night.
The United States used target kites, thousands of them, to train naval gunners to shoot enemy planes because the kites could easily replicate the motions of a dive bomber.
During WWII the U.S. floated huge kites above ships using 2000 foot long wires invisable to enemy pilots. The wires cut into plane wings causing enough damage to cripple them if they attempted to strafe our ammunition and supply ships.
An aerial kite with a camera attached was used to photograph the 1906 earthquake damage right after the devastation. And, it photographed the slow rebuilding of the city. Kite photos have revealed the lines of ancient building foundations, earthquake fault lines, and wagon train wheel tracks.
Today kites are used for para sailing, boogie boards, and some golf carts. A kite can pull a three wheeled cart faster than Pocock's carriage and lift a human into the air like a glider.
Click the link for a photo slide show of some of the kites at the Long Beach Kite Museum.

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