MBK Dowel Box
Samuel Cody, from the United States, later extended the rectangular
box concept and made some winged box kites that were designed for the military. Cody patented his man-lifting system in 1901.
idea was that a human observer could provide an advantage on the
battlefield, by observing the enemy from a great height. The wings and
vanes made the kites even more stable and suited to lifting heavy
Actually, somebody did once go up under a Cody kite to more than 2000 feet of altitude! Too bad the airplane was invented not many years later... A whole bunch of perfectly good Cody kites ended up in moth-balls.
On the topic of airplanes, notice how similar the oldest of biplanes were
to box kites. The planes were basically box-kites with a tail and an
engine added. No coincidence. Take for example, the Bristol Boxkite, a
famous old aircraft. The earliest plane inventors, including the Wright brothers, tinkered with kites while they planned and dreamed about what they really wanted to build!
Later in the history of box kites, during the early twentieth century, they were used for measuring atmospheric conditions such
as wind velocity, temperature, barometric pressure and humidity at a
range of altitudes. These were large, with oiled silk sails and steel
lines. Nice and stable with great lifting power.
Another military application
that can be found in box kite history is the emergency kits issued to
pilots in the Second World War, in the 1940s. Called the Gibson-Girl Box Kite, it could be flown by a pilot lost at sea, with it's line acting as the aerial for a radio transmitter....
if there was no wind, I guess the pilot had to paddle his life raft
like a lunatic, while trying to make the radio call at the same time.
I'm getting exhausted just thinking about it.
Just about the whole time all this military stuff was going on, and up to this day, radio enthusiasts have used box kites for hoisting up aerials to a great height! I guess ham radio isn't as big as it once was, but there you have it, another application for box kites.
Home-made designs can look a little plainer, like my Dowel Box for fresh winds, below... But it's still a blast to see your own creation scooting around up there, hauling the line tight in a fresh breeze.
Since the year 2000, the history of box kites has seen a general
trend for greater and greater variety in the weird and wonderful.
Spectacular, colorful, multi-celled, tumbling and rotating works of aerial art! An example is the EO6, a commercially produced kite that is unstable in light winds. The flier has fun by deliberately slackening and pulling the line to make the kite tumble and change direction.
And here's our giant 2.4m (8ft) long MBK Multi-Dowel Box just hanging in there near the bottom of it's wind range...