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While the most imminently buyable kites are strictly for entertainment, kites have been used in serious scientific pursuits since they were invented in China thousands of years ago.
Yes, in June 1752 a man named Ben Franklin used a kite to prove that lightning is made of electricity, but it goes well beyond that. Kites—which harness lift, weight, thrust, and drag to whip into the air—were precursors to flying machines like the Wright brothers’ first plane. They were used to predict weather conditions in early meteorology. Over a thousand years ago military units across the globe used them for signaling and sending messages from miles away.
Inspired? Ready to make like the finale of Mary Poppins and go fly a kite? These, for what it’s worth, are our favorites—for both amateurs and mega-nerds.
This 30 x 30-inch diamond kite is a classic. It is lightweight and almost indestructible, made with a UV- and stain-resistant rip-stop polyester. To improve flight stability, there are three 12-foot tails attached to the bottom.
This rainbow 26 by 42-inch kite is lightweight, making it perfect for children. The multi-colored flyer is easy to assemble, comes with 50 meters of dacron line, and is made of s strong rip-stop polyester.
This high-strength nylon polymer cephalopod is flight-ready straight from the box. It’s great for young kids, though keep in mind it’s bigger than it looks, measuring just a hair under 3 feet wide and just over 13 feet tall.
Some animals can’t fly. This nylon sea otter can. With 125 feet of line, you can let this guy swim in the clouds.
The 36-inch Spinbox professional nylon kite takes things to the next level. The spinning, multi-colored kite rotates in the sky like a majestic double-rainbow pinwheel.
This Prism Synapse kite has over a 4-foot wingspan and a parafoil frameless design. Without a frame, this kite can more easily re-inflate after crashes. What’s more, it’s got a dual-line control and is designed with air inlets to vent air and prevent the kite from collapsing. The set comes with pre-attached tail, flight straps, and lines.