Ben Franklin’s Experiment — June 10, 1752
On this day in 1752, Benjamin Franklin flies a kite during a thunderstorm and collects a charge in a Leyden jar when the kite is struck by lightning, enabling him to demonstrate the electrical nature of lightning. Franklin became interested in electricity in the mid-1740s, a time when much was still unknown on the topic, and spent almost a decade conducting electrical experiments. He coined a number of terms used today, including battery, conductor and electrician. He also invented the lightning rod, used to protect buildings and ships.
Image from NOAA History – The Kite Stations
Kite flying like a great many other sports is fast becoming of practical use. The Boston Advertiser says that a number of scientific men have turned to the kite as an economical means of taking meteorological observations, which may prove of great benefit to science, by securing an accurate and constant record of the conditions of the atmosphere at altitudes where observations have already been taken. For example during a recent kite ascension at Blue Hill, a maximum height of nearly 9,400 feet was attained, while a meteorgraph record was kept of the atmospheric conditions for more than three hours about a mile from earth. If such records were constantly obtained, the science of forecasting the weather might prove to be much benefited.
The work of the photographing from kites has already been tried in this vicinity with much success. This has led to an interesting experiment by the war department with an idea of utilizing the modern kite for military purposes. In an experiment at Governor’s Island in New York harbor last week, a large kite was sent up bearing a dummy soldier. It is understood that is was so successful that within a few weeks a real soldier will be sent up in the air in one of these kites, to show the feasibility of substituting the modern kite for the war baloon.
Image from Wikipedia
The use of war baloons in Europe has now become general in the military departments of the continent. These baloons are sent up for the purpose of keeping watch upon the movements of an opposing army The test made by the United States was department, however, seems to show that kites can be employed for the same purpose with about the same success. It is still possible that the modern kite will supplant the balloon for this purpose of taking observations from a considerable altitude, for both as regards convenience, and as regards economy, the kite seems to be preferable to the baloon for such purpose.
Austin Daily Herald (Austin, Minnesota) Nov 7, 1896
Kite flying seems to be becoming almost as popular in Maine as in China, judging by the newspaper reports. But the meanest of all kite flying tracks was that of a New Orleans man, who sent up one at Cooper’s Beach, near Rockland, the other day, with its tail decorated with sharp pieces of assorted glass which cut the strings of the other flyers, and caused a shower of kites that for a time was incomprehensible to their owners.
Bangor Daily Whig and Courier (Bangor, Maine) Sep 4, 1897
Image from Hargrave – The Noble Inventor
JERSEY KITE FLYING
Temperature Taken at a Height of 2,973 Feet.
Bayonne, N.J., Nov. 9 — Kite flyers Eddy, Hotchkiss, Allen and Mitchell sent a self registering thermometer to a height of 2,937 feet yesterday. Dr. Eddy says that this was the highest altitude ever reached by a thermometer at Bayonne and the highest ever made without the use of piano wire as the kite line.
Five other ascensions followed during the day, and it was found that it was abnormally warmer aloft. In one instance, at a height of 1,505 feet, the temperature was found to be 63 degrees, both aloft and at the earth.
According to previous kite records the observations indicate warm weather. Triangulations were made with a 600-foot base line and two angles. The wind was very strong from the south. It was two degrees cooler at a height of 2,973 feet than on the ground.
The Arizona Republican (Phoenix, Arizona) Nov 10, 1897
KITE FLYING FOUND TO BE DANGEROUS
CHICAGO, (UP) — Kite-flying has entered the ranks of dangerous pastimes the National Safety Council reported.
A number of fatalities to children flying kites were recorded during the last year, the council said.
Most of the deaths were due to electric shock caused by kite wires or wet strings falling across high tension wires. Other children were killed by cars while flying kites in the streets.
Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, New Mexico) Mar 8, 1931
Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, New Mexico) Mar 14, 1933